The new reality consists of everlasting change. We change our behavior, change our relationships, and work relationships. There are endless changes in companies’ strategies, processes are re-assessed and changed, structures are redesigned, etc. Leaders talk more often about change. And this change has become the new reality for employees in the workplace.
But still, many leaders start the change by feeling and does not invest in the logical support of this change. These feeling-based change initiatives often cause more stress, anxiety, and uncertainty then good in the workplace. They often lead to quitting employees, fear and uncertainty, and slow motion in the process and make companies struggle more than win.
While all leaders need a structured strategy with a high level of acceptance and accountability, they need to work hard on building trust and implementing the energy of the employees into the change management process.
In my experience, I have started many change management initiatives starting from a simple process to transforming a whole company.
I have always followed four simple steps or principles to help me achieve success. I have also taught these four steps the students in classes I have led through the last 10 years. Many of them are HR or other department leaders and have shared that these simple principles have helped him to lead the change management initiatives to the end successfully.
Here they are:
End dealing with loss and confusion
When hearing about change, most people think of something they will lose. The change manager is one of these people. Thinking about what we can lose is self and change destructive elements. If as a leader, you want to succeed in changing the status quo, you will need to start thinking positively. Replace the words loss and confusion with wins and gains. People who are dealing with loss and confusion, close themselves in silos and start protecting them from the new that is coming. To overcome that give a clear sign that planned change is irreversible and they will need to live with it in the future. Explain clearly to that group of people that loss is not an option and confusion is something you will be there to help them overcome it.
End uncertainty about the change
Many people understand that change will happen but do what they can to slow that change as much as they can. This is a natural reaction when something new comes. If you ask yourself why, and then ask half of these people you will get similar generic answers – because of the uncertainty that change will cause. To minimize the effect of uncertainty you will need to focus on communicating about change and what benefits or new things this change will bring. Do not hide some fears, even yours, but try to present them most positively, communicating them as part of the change and the change itself as something that will bring positives for everyone. Uncertainty is often caused (according to a Gallup survey from 2018 67% of people think so) because we lack information. And in a world that is full of surprising things, change is often associated with something harmful. To change that you will need to focus on communication and clearance about what will happen and what will this change bring to others around you. And the most important thing is to make this gain personalized and connected with the person in the first place.
The change as a new beginning
We all understand that when a change moment hits there are a certain number of positive and negative elements in the situation. To give life to the change management process, the leader must present it as a new way of thinking and doing things. Although people are showing resistance to change the bigger part from them wants to do something meaningful, something that changes not only their life but also the life of others. The significant element is presented in Hollywood movies as the superheroes, or the lonely hero, who saves the day, etc. If you are the leader, you will need to engage others in the change management process. Want to do it successfully? The start thinking of how to formulate the change as a new, better, and more productive way to achieve results and goals. And do not forget to point on the gains for each participant in this change management process.
Ready to move on
The fourth element or tip is all connected with the personal level of engagement and accountability. People need to see that their path through the change management process is supported and recognized. The role of the leader here is, after starting the change to be there and support it with words and actions. This active role of the leader will allow the change to happen and will have a positive impact on the participants in the process. The positive impact will be there if the leader does the things right. The positive and constant action plan involving communication and real action is the best way people feel their efforts are recognized and put more energy into getting things right during the change management initiative.
The best way for each leader to ensure that a change initiative will happen is to ensure ongoing support for all elements in the process. If the leader forgets one or another element and the people taking part in this change initiative, the management part can easily turn from an obstacle driven to impossible. The change management thinking starts with the leaders’ will but always ends with the follower’s engagement and accountability.