"Winners must learn to relish change with the same enthusiasm & energy that we have resisted it in the past." ~Tom Peters  

"Effective leaders help others to understand the necessity of change and to accept a common vision of the desired outcome." ~John Kotter

If you want what you’ve always got, then keep doing what you’ve always done. That old saying is only partially true, for the real fact in business is that if you keep doing what you’ve always done, you’ll eventually go extinct. The truth is that as a leader you must constantly improve your operation if you want to succeed. The interesting/sad part is that a portion of your staff will not be at all interested in the change. In many cases it is a large portion of your team.

DO NOT let this dissuade you from changing, but you do need to be aware of it so that you can bring along as much of your staff as possible (and make it much easier on yourself in the process). There are three essential steps (and one great question) that can help you successfully get buy in AND set yourself and your team up for success on the next change:

1)    Tackle ignorance – Most of the time your staff simply has no idea why you do what you do. You need to tell them!!! Most employees want to see the company and department be as successful as possible, and if you explain why the change is in the best interests of everyone, buy-in is easier. Explaining the “why” also addresses your staff’s fear of the unknown, which can be a big source of resistance as well.

2)    Respond to feedback – Nothing goes as planned, but the key to success is dealing with those unplanned events that come up well. One of the big keys is getting immediate feedback from your staff as to what is working and what isn’t working. This not only helps you manage the change better, it also brings your staff into the process and helps establish their ownership of it.

3)    Show them the results – This should be self-explanatory, but you would be shocked how few leaders update their teams on the results of big changes after they are in place. You should have publicized conservative anticipated results when you were giving the "why", all you need do is publicize the results and give a forecast for what will take place in the immediate future.

Even with these steps, there will still be people that will not like the change and will be vocal about it. It is important that you do not dismiss them, but try to bring them into the fold. How do you do that? With one question:

“Why don’t you think this is a good idea?”

You can then reiterate the “why”, show them results if you have them, and gather their feedback to make it better. This still won’t win over everyone, but it is an excellent way to get some of the stragglers on board. So if you are going through a change now, or planning one in the near future, take these steps and you'll make life a whole lot easier on yourself.

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