Change is messy. Let’s face it; nobody likes change. Perhaps more precisely, nobody wants to be changed. Whether it’s a significant formal change, with jobs on the line, or a slight change in process, there will always be a fallout. For every action, there will be a reaction.
It’s well documented but little discussed that change can cost 12 months in innovation in a business. That’s shocking, primarily when change management often sets out to speed up a business, to make it more responsive. What’s worse is that poor change management has just a 15% likelihood of meeting objectives. Projects with fair change management only had a 42% likelihood of meeting project objectives. Given that this is a $10bn industry, what can you do to increase the chances for success?
One of the most significant drift times for change management is in the middle. Gossip and nerves start to creep into the team. Team members fill any void in communication with their narrative, which can undermine future expectations. They can spend a lot of time discussing the change, the reasons behind the shift, speculating on the real reasons behind the change. Or they can share their fears with your customers, competitors, or other interested parties – weakening the overall impact.
So how can you dispel fear and confusion as things get going? Just be there.
Despite the masses of management energy spent preparing the process, this step gets consistently missed as we move onto the implementation. This step is where momentum is lost.
As the leader in the change, now is the time to be most visible, most approachable. Allow extra time in your diary, ask questions, listen.
Be patient. Hear what the concerns are. Find ways to disrupt the rumours before they take hold. Be factual and make sure that the facts reach as many people as possible without judgment or threat.
Right now, your followers need you to step up. Right now is when you earn the right to be called a leader.
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