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Leading Change: 10 Ways Great Leaders Make Change Happen

Dernière mise à jour : avr. 21



Tracy Brower Contributor

Careers

I write about the changing nature of work, workers and the workplace.


Change management has never been easy, but it’s arguably tougher today. Pre-pandemic, there were always people who were available to act as coaches through changes. They had the benefit of distance—people who weren’t going through change themselves—and they could provide unique objective support. But today, every single one of us has been affected by the pandemic, and this means leading through change will be a bit of the proverbial “blind leading the blind.” Despite going through change personally, leaders can effectively lead others out of the darkness of the last year and into a bright future—bridging to something new. In fact, great leadership may not be in spite of being personally enmeshed in the difficulties, but because of it.

Change Is Everywhere All kinds of changes are afoot. Some leaders are helping people amp up their engagement as teams hit walls—exhausted with working from home. Other leaders are preparing people to come back to the office. Still other leaders are helping people transition to new areas of focus as market and business conditions shift in the coming year. All kinds of changes require great leadership for success.

How to Lead Change Successfully Here are 10 tips for managing through change when you’re in the midst of it yourself.

Be authentic. People don’t trust what they don’t understand, and this creates resistance. Leaders who seek to hide their own feelings and reactions aren’t doing themselves any favors and will erode trust. While leaders don’t want to cry on their employees’ shoulders, they can enhance relationships by sharing their own challenges and experiences. Give examples of how you understand, have faced difficulty and worked through it. Authentic leaders are more likely to draw people in and begin a constructive cycle of openness and sharing that characterizes fulfilling relationships and successful change.

Be inspirational. One of the most important elements of successful change is people who share a vision of the future. Great leaders paint a compelling picture of what the future will be, why it is important and how it will be positive. People need to feel a sense of optimism about where you’re going and how they fit. Tie your change to business objectives. Perhaps you’re engaging people in a new or adjusted mission for your department or are motivating people to return to the office. Give people a sense of what things will be like and how their role and contribution will be important to the team and organization’s success.

Be visible. Successful change starts at the top, and successful change leadership requires the active, visible and committed involvement of senior leaders. Sociologically speaking, people are heavily influenced through modeling—watching other people—so the actions of leaders are critical to reinforcing the message of change. When you’re ready for people to come back to the office, be sure you’re there yourself. If you want to improve your team’s engagement by meeting regularly, ensure you’re at every session with your camera on.

Be inclusive. In the same way you should ensure the involvement of yourself and other senior leaders, be sure you’re also creating opportunities for mid-managers, frontline leaders and individual contributors to engage. People are more likely to accept change when they feel a sense of ownership. Listen and seek input continuously. Set up employee groups which can represent their departments, provide feedback and act as liaisons. Also provide as much choice as possible. People are more likely to get on board when they feel like they’ve had some personal control and authorship over where you’re going. In short, engage and empower people.

Be clear. Clarify your expectations for new behaviors. Any change requires shifts in behaviors, and people need to understand the differences between what they were doing before and how that’s different from what you’re requesting tomorrow. In addition, confirm plans and communicate regularly. Provide both push communication (people get it whether they asked for it or not) and pull communication (they can find more information if they want it). Be redundant in your messaging and provide all kinds of mechanisms through which people can obtain information—online, in person, in written form, in video form, etc. One leader said it best, “If you’re not tired of hearing yourself say it by the end of the day, you haven’t said it enough.”

Be proactive. People need different kinds of information at different times. Be intentional and proactive about providing the right communication at the right times. At the beginning of the change, provide information that is contextual (the why and the conditions driving the change) and personal (what’s in it for people). As the change continues, provide instruction on logistics, details and procedures. Moving forward, be sure to give people information about how they can continue to engage, how they can bring others into the changes and how they can contribute to continuous improvement.

Be educational. One of the primary reasons people resist change is because they worry their performance will be negatively impacted. Ensure you’re creating the conditions for success and give people additional training or orientation as necessary. If you’re implementing a new software system, give people the opportunity to learn the ins and outs. If you’re changing your workplace strategy, be sure people know where they’ll work and how they’ll work differently while they’re performing their jobs.

Be measured. Learning and reflection are critical to success, but we can skip them in our rush to keep things moving forward. Be intentional about reflection by setting up evaluation processes to measure pre-change and post-change. This kind of measurement can help you demonstrate results and learn where you’ll need to continuously improve. Remember to assess not just the outcomes of the change, but also the success of the change management process itself, so you can also study and improve your approach.

Be reinforcing. Leading change is not for the faint of heart and it will take endurance. At the same time you’re communicating a sense of urgency, you’ll also need to be patient as change unfolds. Sustain change by reinforcing success and celebrating both small steps and big wins. Recognize and validate positive progress and hold people accountable for behavior changes. Remember to engage both people’s hearts and minds. Appeal to their sense of logic and competence as well as the emotion that catalyzes their enthusiasm.

Be evolving. Change is rarely a start-to-finish endeavor. One leader put it well, “We’re not doing a ribbon cutting on our new space because it’s never finished. We’re always learning and it’s always going to change.” Let people know you’ll continue to learn, improve and move forward. And let them know how they can continue to provide input. When people realize change isn’t final, it takes the edge off and reduces the stress that can come from a desire for perfection. When the world changes so fundamentally, almost everything becomes a change management challenge. Leaders are in a pivotal role to renew, refresh and motivate their people—and to inspire new beginnings and bride to the future. As we come out of the pandemic, change management is a core competence of leadership and it will distinguish great leaders from those who are simply mediocre.

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Tracy Brower Source : https://www.forbes.com/sites/tracybrower/2021/01/17/leading-change-10-ways-great-leaders-make-change-happen/

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