There aren’t many organisations that I have worked with over the last decade from FTSE 100 to SME’s, that aren’t involved in or planning change. Driven by the current geo-political and economic situation, globalisation agendas, technology advances and mergers or acquisitions, modern leaders can’t hide from change.
It is also widely accepted that people are our greatest asset and yet we seem to forget about them and their needs when we embark on change (and Mr Maslow wouldn’t like that!). For most people change is hard, unwelcome and feared. People are uncomfortable with any uncertainty; especially around change. Consequently, transformation projects can raise concerns, heighten tension and can cause anxiety.
Not to mention if you get this wrong it can cost you £ Millions.
So, here are some tips for managing your teams through change that I have gained during my experience of working with organisations that have successfully implemented and delivered on change.
1. Create Purpose.
Purpose lies outside the obvious financial incentives for undertaking change and is the lynch pin for positive evolution, because not everyone in the organisation will be as motivated by financial results. If you haven’t watched Simon Sinek’s, 'start with the why', now would be a good time. Apple want to challenge the status quo, Lego want to inspire the next generation of builders and Nike want to enable athletes (and you’re an athlete if you participate in sport at any level).
What is your organisation going to be known for? What is it's purpose? What does your team believe in? Give them a higher purpose.
As previously mentioned change is not welcomed by most employees. You can alleviate the tension by having a clear vision and well planned road map that you have communicated to the business. This makes people feel safe, secure and negates the gossip that often ensues when change is on the cards. An end goal is essential for creating a sense of purpose – See point 1
3. Long Term Mentality
You must prepare your business for the long term by avoiding a short-term mentality. Sure, loosing head count will save costs this financial year but cutting that cost alone won’t create a business that will stand the test of time. You need to create midterm incentives to drive growth, create capacity and change the way the business operates. Knowing the business has a long-term future will create a sense of purpose - See point 1
Each stage of your transformation may well require different tools, techniques or even leadership styles. Therefore, investing in your leadership and giving them the tools will allow them to be successful and create a sense of purpose that is essential - See point 1
5. Promote Continuous LearningEncouraging personal growth and learning is key for employee motivation and will ensure you have the best team on board. Promoting continuous learning will ensure employees are engaged in what they are doing, can build on their skills (for the benefit of themselves and the business) and give them a sense of purpose - See point 1
6. Celebrate Success and Align Rewards
Find your change champions and celebrate those who are bringing ideas and solutions to the table. People like to be celebrated, so the effect will be contagious and will ensure a sense of purpose. To accentuate this ensure that you align people rewards to the new transformation. You can’t incentivise someone on their profitability if the transformation is going to generate cost. If their rewards are aligned with the project they will quickly gain a sense of purpose - See point 1
If your business is currently undergoing a change a transformation project or you are in the process of planning one, I would be keen to hear your thoughts. Please get in contact directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org or alternatively comment below.