Today I talk about change, the challenges, the resistance and the models that can help you negotiate the often treacherous path to creating a change environment, especially during challenging times.
During a change process, you need to win the hearts and minds of the people. Imposing change on people is fraught with challenges which inevitably create resistance because of our fixed mindset and human nature.
Common challenges and how to overcome them;
People don’t like change
Change can mean uncertainty, anxiety and stress. Identify what it is that you/they don’t like, and then decide your approach.
People don’t understand the change
Figure out why the change is happening and work out how to best articulate it to others.
Everybody has an opinion
Most leaders promote the organisational benefits when communicating change to staff without outlining the benefits to team members. Reflect on how individuals in the organisation will react or respond to your change announcement.
Clarity on roles and responsibilities
For change to be successful, well managed and to stick, it is really important to understand who is responsible for what during this time.
Speed of adoption
Addressing what kind of emotions you’re being shown: are you seeing apathy? Anarchy? Anger? Then find out why people might feel this way, and how you can get back on track
Change is awesome?
Innovation is critical to getting and staying ahead. However, innovation often comes unstuck once people realise it also involves change. No radical innovation can get off the ground without engaging people and helping them find ways to implement it. Maybe you need a bit of change management as well as innovative thinking.
Sometimes, change is really, really BIG. A new strategy, a new direction, a new way of working. All of these are both helped and hindered by organisational culture. But changing culture feels like trying to push water uphill. Such large scale change can be daunting.
When implementing change you will face resistance, let’s talk through common forms of resistance and how to manage it.
Loss of control
It’s much more than just power or politics, it’s our sense of self-determination that’s impacted when others force change. Leave space for those affected to make choices and invite people into the planning and give them ownership.
Change can hurt
New technologies have displaced old ones and jobs have been lost, prices have been cut, investments and industries eroded and even extinct. So to overcome this threat you need to be authentic, transparent, honest, fair and fast!
Change is more work! Those closest to the change are often overloaded because of all the unanticipated issues that arise on the journey. Acknowledge that the change will create more work, allocate time to work on implementing the change and provide incentives and reward those who participate.
If people are scared, uncomfortable and fearful then they change will be resisted. Create a sense of safety and certainty for people and you must have an inspiring vision to have them follow you. You can do all this with a process that is clear, simple and time framed.
Change creates ripples that can reach beyond your circle. Ensure you think wide and far before implementing changes and consider all your stakeholders and this ripple effect to minimise disruption.
Loss of competence!
Can you do it? Too often a very common cause of resistance is when someone questions their own ability and competence. Invest in reassurance, excellent communication, education, support services and mentoring you will minimise the resistance and implement the changes faster and more effectively.
The two models that can help when implementing change;
Appreciative Inquiry; a strengths-based, positive approach to leadership development and organisational change. It helps people move toward a shared vision for the future by engaging others in strategic innovation.
The key points with this approach is;
- The need to establish a climate of positivity
- Discover what’s good and take this forward with the change
- Create positive energy networks
- Pay attention to strengths and the best self
- Experiment with “reflected best-self feedback”
Kotter’s Change Model is a world-leading 8-step process for leading change;
- Increase urgency
- Create a guiding coalition (identify your champions)
- Get the vision right
- Communicate for buy-in
- Empower action
- Create short-term wins
- Consolidate gains and don’t let up
- Anchor change in your culture
It’s a simple step process that provides you with a framework to underpin your change strategy.
In communicating the change or transformation, there are some things you need to keep in mind. The vision must always be:
- Simple: No techno babble or jargon.
- Vivid: A verbal picture is worth a thousand words – use metaphor, analogy, and example.
- Repeatable: Ideas should be able to be spread by anyone to anyone.
- Invitational: Two-way communication is always more powerful than one-way communication.
In pursuit of simplicity, fewer words are better.
I urge you to seek to become a living example of your new corporate culture that the vision aspires to.
The key for leaders and ourselves is to be aware of the challenges and the resistance so we can become the change. Change will always be uncomfortable therefore we need to minimise the discomfort. Not everyone will conform and for those it’s much better for everyone that they are cut sooner rather than later. The promise of change for everyone is rarely possible. Diagnosing the sources of resistance and knowing the challenges you will face in advance allows you to develop strategies to manage the change you wish to establish.
Until next week,
Live with purpose