I have managed change within teams and as part of managing a project team creating the change in other organisations. I have seen how understanding the human aspects of change and helping people to embrace change is the most challenging part of the process.
I have mentioned in the previous 2 articles that there are reasons why people resist change. For instance, people like routine, they feel that they perform best when they know what is happening, when things are comfortable and predictable. However, the biggest reason is fear. As soon as you mention that things are going to change, people will immediately ask “What does this mean for me? Will I be have to change my job, will I be able to use the new system, will this affect my bonus, will I lose my job?”
In order to make change stick, you will have to confront this fear and find ways of addressing the fears.
By definition, a leader’s job is to challenge the existing ways of thinking, to create a vision of a new state and to lead his/her team towards that vision. However, a good leader does that with a sensitivity that makes people want to join him or her on the journey.
That definition offers the keys to unlocking fears.
1. Challenge the existing state
The first step is to create the reason for change. It is important to loosen people’s grip on their routine and comfort. If you are moving desks in an office, maybe it is because you need to fit someone else in as you`re currently short-handed. If you are implementing a new system, maybe it is to make your business more productive than your competitors (and if you don’’t you will lose market share and therefore your jobs).
In effect, you are saying, go through this period of upheaval and pain and there will be a greater benefit.
2. Create a new vision
Once you have explained the reason for change, you can then start the work on painting a vision of a better future. The textbook approach is to say “OK, if this is the reason for change, what do you think we should look like instead?’ Engaging with those affected by the change helps them to consider all the various options and understand the implications of those options. So let them help guide you on where your organisation could go.
3. Lead the change
By engaging with your teams, by allowing them to be involved in planning change, you can help them to accept the change and make it successful. Why does this happen? Because, if you have done the other two steps well, they can understand the reasons for the change and the benefits that the change will offer. They know their own work better than anyone else and can suggest the changes required. You just keep them focussed on the end goal.
It’s not that easy
Now, I have made that sound extremely easy. Let me say, implementing change that sticks is extremely difficult. It is complex, challenging but rewarding work. But, I hope you have noticed how Emotional Intelligence plays a vital role in helping leaders implement change successfully.
Leaders with High EQ will be able to:
- Be open and honest about the reasons for change and allow people to be involved in defining the new vision and the path to get there.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate by keeping the messages clear and consistent, using lots of different channels and allowing for that communication to be two way.
- Recognising that there will always be people who may never agree with the change and will resist all the way through. They have a right to their views and feelings and they are allowed to have their say.
- Hopefully, these little tips will make the task of implementing change a little easier!
If you read my articles regularly, you will know I talk about Emotional Intelligence and I hope you can see why self-awareness, self-management, understanding others and having good social skills are essential to any leader wanting to implement change. If you are worried about leading change, reflect on your Emotional Intelligence skills first and then move onto leading change.
Get in touch
Successful managers recognise that they need outside support from time to time. So, if you are struggling to implement change that sticks, get in touch with me and let’s see if I can help you be even more successful.