Have you noticed yet that the only constant is change? It’s cliché, but it’s accurate. Part of what makes our world what it is, is its inherent continuous improvement. The same is critically important for our personal growth and the growth of our businesses. How, then, do we manage change more effectively?
Two simple tips have served me well in leading change efforts with clients, as a manager, and even with myself: move swiftly and be clear about “why”.
Change is difficult for many (most?) people. Various reasons to resist are credible and ingrained in all of us: this may negatively impact me, this may hurt others, this may fail and backfire leaving us worse than before, nothing is wrong with the way things currently work, and so on. These worries and concerns, like most worries and concerns, will only get increasingly mentally exaggerated if the change effort drags on interminably. Thus, it’s very important for leaders to carefully plan what is changing, why, how, and how that change will be implemented over what clearly defined period. Ripping off the band-aid may not always be the best approach but dragging a change effort out almost never is.
Given the reasons people resist change (see above), it’s also critical to be clear about and explain the “why”. Team members need to understand why the new way of doing things is necessary, different, better (if that’s the case), and in what ways it will impact them. If a change makes sense – or even if it doesn’t – if it’s clearly explained and justified, people are much more likely to support it and help implement it successfully. Here’s a key to life: everyone doesn’t have to agree to successfully support change. They just have to understand why the change matters.
There are many other ideas out there around successful change management. If that is your constant responsibility, and you need a deeper dive, check out the work of Kurt Lewin and/or John Kotter. If it’s an occasional necessary part of your work, these two tips will hopefully serve you as well as they have me.
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