“Change is inevitable. Growth is optional.”
Creating change that your team will want to embrace is a big undertaking yet also very doable with support, planning, and constant communication. When people feel like they can be successful and the heroes of the transformation journey, they will be your biggest champions.
Why can change be so hard? In an article by Tony Robbins, he addresses one of our basic needs: the need for certainty. Impending change is anything but certain and this can create anxiety, overwhelm, or resistance for many people. However, this need for certainty can be navigated with a well-thought-out plan for successful change. We are creatures of habit; it’s comfortable and requires less strategic brain power or effort when we can cruise through our workday with a system that’s already dialed in.
Here are a few tips to ease your transformation journey for your team leading to sustainable change:
Know the why and get on board with it. Have a clear reason for the transformation that people can lean on as their compass. This appeals to logic. Uncertainty breeds fear and this is unfortunately where many organizations fail. Transparency develops greater trust. Be clear about the next steps and don’t hold back. According to Harvard Business Review, high-trust cultures foster increased levels of employee engagement, innovation, and satisfaction.
Get Them Involved
In his book Leading Change, James O’Toole discusses how people naturally object to having the will of someone else imposed upon them. It can be harder to embrace change when it wasn’t our idea or what we’d choose to do.
When there’s more skin in the game, people are more likely to be more invested in the change. What’s in it for them?
One potential pitfall is assuming that people will understand the benefit of the change or will quickly see how it can benefit them personally. People will get inspired and invested when they can see what they have to gain through a new process, technology, team, etc. Examples of personal benefits may be personal growth, promotion, an opportunity to learn new skills, or the elimination of manual or redundant processes.
An encouraging reframe to resistance is to instead look at what there is to gain from the transformation.
Empathy is the new black. This is one of the best skills a leader can develop. Leaders often feel it but don’t express it enough because they can feel vulnerable to acknowledge the concerns of others. Change is hard and you will face resistance. Often people just need to feel heard even if any voiced concerns leave the outcome unchanged. Giving people the space to feel heard and express any fears or concerns will go a long way in developing trust and motivation.
You can head off resistance by calling it out early in the process by acknowledging your own stories about change: how it may feel hard, overwhelming, scary, etc.
According to Indeed, when you have a culture of empathy, it leads to improved communication, strengthened working relationships, and more creative thinking. This is compelling and will usher in the transformation much more smoothly.
Get vulnerable by sharing that you, too, are learning and creating new habits. As you look at your own resistance to change, challenge people to look at any resistance that may emerge for them. It becomes an opportunity to look at any fears, assumptions or perceptions. If you haven’t faced your own resistance, others will notice and it will come through in your communication.
There are many experts who have been through their own transformation journeys as well — those who have done this before and can guide the process to a more successful outcome.
We all can benefit from mentors, consultants, and coaches who offer an unbiased perspective and years of expertise that can save months or years of the results of poor planning.
Data suggests that leveraging management consultants is a business must-have that is here to stay. It’s how organizations can stay competitive and nimble with a growth mindset.
“Change is the law of life, and those who look only to the past and present are certain to miss the future.”
Sustainable Transformation Is Possible
Sustainable transformation for greater success is possible. It’s not only possible but can be embraced by your team when they feel like their voice matters, they are informed and can be part of the process, and can clearly see what they have to gain through it all.
Change will often be met with a level of fear or resistance; however, knowing how to navigate this when it does come up will have everyone shining as the heroes. We often forget that leaders feel vulnerable too and when you show up with a willingness to show your humanity with empathy and vulnerability, it will develop greater trust and safety. Others will be inspired to join the transformation journey alongside you.