Leading Well During Times of Change
3 weeks ago life was normal and I was looking forward to Spring Break and summer vacation. Now, the world is quarantined courtesy of Covid19. The sudden shutdown of our economy and society in general has not only caused major disruptions to personal lives but to our work lives as well. Many companies are forced into providing work from home opportunities and some have even had temporary layoffs.
Although we should all be taking this virus seriously, it does not mean that our work life has to suffer. Your business can still thrive in uncertainty. Despite the current predicament of our world, not all change is bad. If done right, you can even turn a negative change into something positive.
Different Types of Organizational Change and Its Impact on Employees
"Change is inevitable in organizations, and when it happens, leadership often underestimates the impact those changes have on employees”- David. W. Ballard, PsyD, MBA, former head of APA’s Center for Organizational Excellence
Changes perceived as negative drain resources, making it difficult to cope with and implement change.
Takes away the energy of employees
Neutral changes may seem minimal but the frequency can add up leading to either positive or negative feelings
Changes perceived as positive increase employee’s access to resources to do their job
Increase employee engagement and retention.
My favorite book on change management continues to be John Kotter's "Our Iceberg is Melting" which is an excellent short fable about a colony of penguins who find that their iceberg is melting and that they need to migrate. The fable outlines John Kotter's steps for leading change. Here are the steps along with helpful tips on making each step successful.
Creating a Sense of Urgency
Don’t exhibit panic, stress or loss of control
Help others see the need for change through effective and positive communication
Make smart decisions with confidence and act on them quickly
Identify causes of complacency and how to eradicate them
Encourage and offer help. Don’t nag, bully or threaten.
Build a Guiding Coalition “It Takes a Village”
Strong teams help drive positive change
Engage your staff
Diversity is Key
Focus on behavior not personality
Engage your team
Forming the Strategic Vision and Initiatives “Good business leaders create a vision, articulate the vision, passionately own the vision, and relentlessly drive it to completion”-Jack Welch
A change vision is simply what the organization, department, product or service will look like after the specific changes have occurred
Clarify how the future will be different from the past
Ask how we can make that desired future a reality through initiatives linked directly to the vision.
An effective change vision is easy to understand, and easy to deliver through both written and verbal communication
Enable Action by Removing Barriers “Bad Habits Die Hard”
Know exactly what your barriers are and its impact to change efforts
Evaluate alternatives to eliminate the barrier
Select the best option
Train how to remove the barrier
Monitor the progress
Don’t Turn Back
Generate Short Term Wins “Wins are the molecules of results”
Wins must be recognized, collected and communicated-early and often, to track progress and to energize employees to persevere.
Short term wins are organizational or departmental wins that can be implemented in 6-18 months.
Effective wins are not gimmicks but significant improvements
Short term wins are visible throughout the entire organization, team or department.
Short term wins are clearly related to the change effort.
Press harder after the first successes
Be relentless with initiating change after change until the vision is a reality
Use increased credibility to change all systems, structures, and policies that don’t fit together and don’t fit the transformation vision.
Hire, promote, and develop talent that can implement the change vision
Articulate the connections between the new behaviors and organizational successes.
Make sure those new behaviors and organizational successes continue until they become strong enough to replace old habits
Create better performance through customer and productivity oriented behavior, more and better leadership, and more effective management.
Anchor the new approaches in the culture
Other Tips for Leading Change
Follow through, but be flexible