Have you read the first part of this blog post yet? Here, we talk about how to put being a change leader into practice.
So how can you be a change leader? How can you learn to strategically nag and lead change?
Ask ‘Why’: Channel your inner toddler and ask “why” a lot. Asking why gets you to the real problems and focuses on experiences and outcomes rather than tasks or features. It also helps align the different actors because they all have to stop and think, rather than rely on emotions. (Elephant, meet rider!)
Educate: Take every chance you get to explain what you’re doing and why – show the steps, draw things out. Help people understand how you developed whatever it is you’re working on.
Communicate: Under-communication is often our biggest problem. A 2014 PMI report about managing change says “creating an effective communication plan…and communicating the intended benefits of change are key factors [in implementing change].” There is no such thing as over-communication.
Evangelize: Be an evangelist: Someone who talks about something with great passion. Passion is contagious. As more people are invested in the work you do, they will be excited to see it come to life and grow.
Define the vision: Leaders define the vision of what they are trying to achieve. The vision is the glue. The Heaths call this “creating a destination postcard.” Don’t walk into a meeting with answers. Walk in with a picture of the goal. Make it clear. Resistance is often the result of a lack of clarity. When you define the vision, you remove much of the ambiguity.
Share the vision: Manage up, sideways and down. Use the language each person or group will understand.
- Executives – They want numbers, how this new way of doing things will help them achieve their strategic objective, and maybe even what their legacy will be.
- Upper or senior management – Talk to them about making staff and customers happy. Help them see how to set things up.
- Middle management – These people manage teams and report to senior management. Talk to them about how you can help them meet their goals and support their team.
- Workers – Show them tools and processes. Help them understand what’s in it for them.
Celebrate short-term wins
Once you start having success, you need to celebrate wins. Remember, this is not going to happen fast. By celebrating the little things along the way to the bigger goal, you:
- Boost morale.
- Keep the elephant and rider moving.
- Remove roadblocks.
- Generate energy and forward momentum.
Seek progress, not perfection
Always keep in mind that progress is more important than perfection. You’ll need to remind yourself as well as others when you start getting bogged down in small details.
Not everyone to go along with this, no matter what you do. You have to be prepared for people who will resist change. This is where the thick skin is important. In sports, they often say “the best defense is a good offense.” You will need to be one step ahead of the detractors.
Dealing with detractors
Focus: Identify the most prevalent problems in your organization and steer people away from them by asking “why” until you get to the bottom of the issue. Focus on the solution, not the problem.
Empathize: Have empathy for the people your work is disrupting. Take a moment to understand how this change is scary and threatening and disruptive. Empathy builds trust and relationships, but it won’t get the work done. So be careful about taking it too far.
Invite them in: Don’t ignore detractors or resistors. Invite them to be part of the process. Let them have their say. Ask for their help. Give them choices that you can live with. Be clear, simple, and respectful with them.
Reframe: One way to resolve conflict is to reframe the problem. Try one of these tactics for reframing.
- Ask questions like “How would you get started?” or “How will our members use this?”
- Use different ways of communicating. Email not working? Try a phone call.
- Use visuals. Sketches, prototypes, whiteboards. Words don’t always work.
Pick one thing and do it. See what happens, learn from it, build up your confidence, and get things done. Keep in mind that it is easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.
Just do it
“It’s easier to ask for forgiveness than it is to get permission.” — Grace Hopper
Take a seat at the table: Don’t wait to be invited to take a seat at the table. Lean in to the discomfort and be vulnerable. Let yourself be seen. Complaining about how no one will listen, how people just don’t get it, will not help. Own your expertise and speak up.
Recruit others: You’ll find fellow change agents in likely and unlikely places. When people see success, they like to spread it.
Work together: Collaborate, communicate, and celebrate. Don’t go it alone. We really do achieve more when we work together.
Focus on progress: You can’t do everything at once. But you can build momentum. It’s still an uphill climb and the top of the hill is where the culture has evolved to accept change as a constant and is able to adapt.
Are you ready for your assignment? How will you get started?