Leading Change is Hard
Clients often ask how much time and effort is enough to lead people through a change initiative?
My answer: as long as it takes to help your people through it.
I have to let them know the truth, that unfortunately, you can’t anticipate how long it will take for individual people to get to acceptance. We are all different.
The reality is, we all move along the change curve at our own individual pace. Just like grief, you can't help someone get through it faster. That said, there are things you can do to help people find their way.
How To Help Change Adoption
Things you can do to help change adoption:
🔮 The change adoption rate should be used to dictate timing, vs a hard deadline or date
🔮 Never assume everyone is ok with the change; check in A LOT
🔮 Focus on cultural forming AFTER the implementation as much as you do during the beginning
🔮Pay attention to resistors, there is great learning there, frustrating as it might be, the people making the most noise will shine a light on areas you might have overlooked
🔮 Likewise, reach out to the quiet or reserved team members, they are usually observing and will share only when asked
🔮Create meaningful time to connect with everyone; listen to challenges, AND wins, both for internal or external customer impacts; then share action plans and credit the team insights
🔮 Build in continuous improvement cycles to make change stick, don't assume you are done
🔮 Allow for ‘soak time’ in your plans; the majority of people need a period to think, absorb what this change really means to them and consider what else they need to know
Help Your Team Through Change
Think back to any change you were involved with that went well:
✅ What, if any success criteria was shared ‘how will you know when the change is complete’
✅ Did they include behavioural elements and performance indicators to check along the way?
✅ Did you discuss what working through the change curve might be like beforehand?
✅ Was it ok for people to feel their feelings during the process?
✅ Was there lots of check-ins with the team for how they were doing?
✅ Did they give you some time to get used to the changes?
✅ Did you feel your voice was heard?
Case in point: During the early days of pandemic, few businesses were ready to help their people through shifting from work to home.
It was exhausting for everyone!
How great was it when:
🧡 Your manager connected with you to evaluate how you and your family were doing?
🧡 You had choice to go on camera for meetings?
🧡 When people really listened because you were angry at not being able to work the way you preferred?
🧡 You could share your own experience with colleagues about the challenges you faced?
🧡 It was OK when the dog showed up at your desk and your client wanted to see him?
🧡 You had some flexibility in your time to get things done?
Dots SOS: If work sucks really bad and you are ready to go but don't know where to start, reach out to me for a 30 - minute free consult today!
Change Plans Are Not A Checklist
None of those things made the adoption to change happen faster. But you did begin to adapt and start to see some good things come from it. That's because it wasn’t a checklist exercise, it was allowed to be a human experience. That’s what made the difference.
If there is one great thing that came from the pandemic, is that feelings and being human made it into the workplace.
We were allowed to feel through the change, we listened and supported one another, enablers were developed to help people connect like never before, the corporate masks were replaced with genuine caring and understanding.
And that, right there, is what helps change adoption!
Leading change is definitely hard, whether you're leading a merger, acquisition or worse, a downsizing, the change is not easy.
As a leader, expect to feel frustrated that people don't make the leap as quick as you might hope, there might be a lot of complaining and perceived resistance. It's all normal!! As humans, the way change happens is filled with emotion. Prepare for it, expect it, allow for it - it will all work out but it might take more time than you expect.
Change is a feeling process. Seldom does anyone tell us that!
If you're looking for support for leading a company change, please reach out to me. People change management is my speciality.
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Elaine Adamson is a leadership consultant with Dots Leadership Solutions Inc. A natural dot connector. Passionate about coaching team effectiveness and leadership development she shares over 25+ years of real-life tips and tricks that really work!
Elaine believes you can discover and leverage strengths to forge a strong team dynamic despite business challenges or organizational change.
She posts some great articles on Linked In too!
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