Change, they say, is the heartbeat of growth. Without it, progress is impossible. But change doesn’t come easy. The current demonetization drive being led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a good example of how some people dig in their heels when faced with sudden change.
Change can be overwhelming, but that’s no reason to capitulate to the fear that it brings. Most often than not, the biggest barrier to change is a mental roadblock. How can you work to overcome mental barriers and resistance, and lead powerful change that will take your organization into the future? Change starts at the top, with the leaders and managers. The right people in place can help foster an environment of change.
#1 Make experimentation a habit
Today’s changing times make it essential for big and small companies to be able to adapt and – if necessary – pivot quickly. Any firm that keeps the focus on experimentation welcomes new ideas and works on evolution patterns to see what their product or service could become. But a culture where experimentation thrives often takes a push from management to make it happen.
What you can Do: Find a way that works for your company, but ensure that the experimentation shows results and isn’t done for the sake of experimenting.
#2 Be flexible to be successful
Organizations keen to drive change tend to be more fluid and collaborative. They’re not bound by rigid rules – instead of asking employees to punch in at 9 am every morning, they may support flexible work schedules and mobile technology to work from anywhere.
What you can Do: It could be a small move or a complete overhaul, but being adaptable and accommodating helps embrace change. If the plan doesn’t work, change the plan, not the goal.
#3 Open all channels of communication
Change leads to concerns among employees and team members. Rather than letting a communication breakdown get in the way, leaders should explain why the company has chosen to move in the chosen direction and how the change will benefit the organization and people. Be open and honest about information and facts.
What you can Do: Be transparent and open about what the change means, in the short and long term. People resist change because they focus on what they have to give up, not what they stand to gain.
#4 Address personal concerns
Once you inform about the broader picture, people will want to know how the change will play out for them personally. What’s in it for them? How will they need to adapt? What kind of skills would they need? Leaders and managers must remember that a change in the organization may make people think their personal and organizational commitments are being threatened.
What you can Do: Make sure you address personal concerns as they surface. Share concerns openly so that they don’t persist.
#5 Put processes in place
If you’ve shared information and allayed fears successfully, people in the organization will now be keen to know how the change will be implemented and what they need to do. Make sure that things have been thought through and everyone is on the same page about the nitty-gritties.
What you can Do: Action your plan and let people know what they need to do first, second, third. Also announce where to go for assistance, when needed.
#6 Continuously evaluate & refine
Implementation may not be easy, but once people are on board it gets easier. Make sure you keep answering any and all concerns that crop up. Focus on evaluation so that you – and people around you – can gauge the change’s relevance and payoff. The course of any organizational change leads to numerous learnings. Think how the change can be refined and focus on continuous improvement.
What you can Do: Keep communicating and share early wins. It is easier to keep the ball rolling if employees see that the change is making a positive difference.
#7 Take time with the next initiative
You may have plenty of plans to revolutionize the organization but remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day. Let the change settle in, let employees get used to each and every stage and only then think about other change initiatives. Doing things right will drastically increase your – and the organization’s – chances of success.
What you can Do: Never rush through the early stages of any plan. Take the time needed but stick to your guns so that you aren’t derailed. Remember that change isn’t an event, it’s a process.
Dealing with people’s concerns about change may seem like too much of hand-holding, but it’s essential to discuss and debate impact before implementation. The future of work is all about change. The choice is yours: Will you change proactively or will you be forced to change reactively?
The secret to success is good leadership. Get more advice on how to lead here.