Successful Tips For Leading Your Team Through Change
William Craig | Forbes
There can be any number of reasons why you might want to change the way you do things. Whether it’s to see what a new business strategy yields or to adapt to a global world and a more competitive market, change is all around us. But how we go about implementing it can mean the difference between stumbling and vaulting to the top of your industry.
What kind of changes are we talking about? It can be anything, really, but the demands of the modern world can be both great and small. Some example of change within your business include:
- Transitioning to a new organizational framework or strategy
- Implementing a new tool or process
- Coping with emerging or changing business trends in your industry or increased competition
- Dealing with the ramp-up to a busy — or busier than average — holiday season and subsequent staffing shortages
- Re-evaluating and updating business goals to meet demand or answer productivity changes
So, whether you’re thinking about a small or massive change for your team, here are three strategies for how to navigate it successfully. Change might be inevitable, but it doesn’t mean your team has to proceed in the dark.
1) Be Clear About Your Anticipated Timeline
This situation might sound familiar: your supervisor “recommends” a procedural change for you in a meeting one day, and you consider it. Then, after two weeks roll by, some leading questions reveal those changes were a little less optional than you thought.
As a leader yourself, you don’t want to cause this kind of frustration for the employees who report to you. If your team needs to make a change, there’s probably a good reason for it. So, communicate your ideas for the change and be very clear about the timeline you’re targeting.
Not every team will react to changes at the same pace, so leave some wiggle room for a learning curve or to exchange further ideas about how to make the transition smooth. What you don’t want to do is be unclear to the point that your team doesn’t know what you expect from them or when you expect it.
2) Choose The Right People To Help Make The Change
It’s true that we all have different skills and talents. Consequently, we all bring different levels of passion and aptitude to the work we do on a daily basis.
As a business leader, when you think you’ve identified a change worth making, you know you can’t do it alone. You need people on your side who see the transition clearly, understand how to implement it and feel comfortable and confident enough to help the rest of your team when they need it. To put it another way, you need to delegate each of the most important parts of this plan to people you can trust to see it through. You might be a leader, but you can’t do everything yourself.
Maybe you’re bringing a new technology tool into the mix, or you’re trying out new ways to cope with the coming busy season. Whatever change you want to make, identify people in your business who are keen to trying new techniques, experienced at giving feedback and dedicated to bringing others up to speed. These are the employees who can best bring about this change enthusiastically and smoothly.
3) Make Change A Natural Part Of What You Do
We’ve talked a lot about how to implement changes once they’ve been prescribed by managers, shareholders and other types of leaders. But the truth is, some of the best suggestions come from the lower ranks of a company’s hierarchy. This means two important things about change:
- Positive change can come from anywhere. You need to be listening for and amenable to it when it does.
- Even significant changes aren’t difficult to face if you’ve helped foster the right kind of culture. The members of your team should be energized, engaged and always on the lookout for exciting new ways to do what they do. Every mogul in Silicon Valley agrees, including Mark Zuckerberg: “In a world that’s changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.”
That’s right: being open to change — and to taking risks — might be the most important part of readying your team to adapt to them in the first place. It’s a perfect system: if you encourage continual education, improvement and out-of-the-box thinking, the next time you’re faced with a necessary change you need to make in your organization, you’ll find it that much easier to bring about.
The more you foster this type of creativity and forward-thinking, the better equipped you’ll be to face a brave new globalized world — the kind of world that can solve some of humanity’s and industry’s oldest and most persistent problems.
So, what have you changed lately?
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