To remain competitive, most organizations stay up to date on every technology, continually propose innovative products and always embrace change. However, putting change into practice is much more complex than it appears.
To that effect, effective leaders have to be confident, self-aware, self-assured, strategic, adaptable, bold, resourceful, driven, accountable and able to think on their feet. Needless to say, ineffective leadership hinders change, creates mistrust, disengagement, misalignment and a loss of moral among employees.
Wondering how to successfully lead change and overcome resistance?
Change is a part of life, is a constant and is inevitable. Change shakes things up, disrupts old habits, breathes new life into the workplace and into any project.
It has the ability to stimulate interest in a job and can be perceived as a new challenge. It also creates an opportunity for promotion and to learn new skills.
Change becomes compulsory and evident in the workplace during societal movements, when the values and beliefs of both leaders and employees no longer match those of the company. Change also happens when the organization requires new skills, new products or services, policies update, restructuring, or relocation.
Resistance to change
Change brings about an initial resistance, can easily become chaotic and unstable. When faced with change, most people believe that they will:
- potentially lose their current position,
- be demoted, that their career will eventually suffer or that their hard work will be devalued,
- be working for a lower salary,
- lose control over their own life,
- live in the unknown.
The unknown generates strong emotions in people. Therefore, employees tend to resist change when they are surprised or unprepared, don’t understand the reasons for the change, are not implicated enough in the decision-making process.
Indeed, some people will openly express their resistance to change, some will voluntarily sabotage change, others will quietly and passively express their discontent. It is the role of the leader to temper such behavior and push change.
How to implement change?
The leaders must visibly act out the change, must be ready to do things differently and to think otherwise. To lead the change process from start to finish:
- Assess your own ability to handle change. Before undertaking such mission, ensure that you believe in the change and that it doesn’t go against your principles. In addition, keep in mind that reacting to the change is much more difficult than initiating it. Either you can start the movement, participate in it or suffer and react to it.
- Stay disciplined, resilient and patient. The change process is slow and everybody moves at their own pace.
- Learn to communicate your vision which encompasses your values and morals.
- Be authentic and transparent in order to build trust and to improve relationships. Change is much more difficult to implement when there is a climate of mistrust.
- Be open to feedback and to making alterations to the original plan of action.
- Ask probing questions to key employees, acknowledge that you don’t know all the answers and be open to learn continually. This will allow you to gather appropriate information, to anticipate issues, to maximize effort.
- Evaluate the right amount of change you want to implement. You don’t want to overwhelm or burn out your employees .
- Calculate the costs and determine the feasibility of the change to ensure that it doesn’t get out of control. It becomes critical to motivate the necessary time and resources, to place emphasis on the value and sustainability of change.
- Analyze the consequences of change before undertaking anything.
- Understand the company culture, its values and beliefs in order to best present ideas and to determine a proper structure.
- Design a clear strategy and outcome for the process. For example, you can break the change process into smaller steps, prioritize them and create metrics to measure progress.
- Identify the influencers and the people who are open to change in your organization. Find informal leaders in your organization, who will motivate others and who will instill pride in their work.
- Discuss the implications of change with your employees and increase the number of meetings if necessary. Listen to the questions and concerns of your employees. It is necessary to reassure people about the upcoming changes by explaining to them the reasons and the benefits for change.
- Directly address problems, don’t micromanage and don’t openly criticize dissenting voices in order to shut them up.
- Keep your energy up during the process, motivate your team and show them the positive sides of the transformation. Persuade your employees that they will benefit from the change to increase commitment.
- Encourage collaboration on your team, mitigate conflicts and maintain harmony as much as possible because emotions are high.
- Set high expectations and give your team the confidence to deal with changes and gain their approval every step of the way.
- Give your employees more ownership of their work to increase commitment.
- Expect setbacks. Understand that the risks are worth the rewards and that it is OK to fail. People don’t take risks when there are no personal rewards, there is no clemency towards failure.
Hope that I’ve helped you get it together on your way to leadership!
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