In your career, how many change initiatives have you experienced? Of those, how many actually succeeded? For too many people, the answer is very few.
The fact is that over 70% of change initiatives fail, whether that be due to a poor strategy, poor change leadership, or poor execution. As a result, over time individuals become suspicious, cynical, and even downright resistant to change of any shape or size, regardless of how well-intentioned the change initiative may be.
Unfortunately, many people leaders see this as employees being “difficult.” Their employees ask too many questions, point out problems, question the strategy, or generally drag their heels. For this reason, some leaders altogether avoid including their team in the change process as it quickly becomes a negative experience for both parties.
While this may be a common scenario to play out in the workplace, it is a mistake not to involve your team. According to research by Gartner, organizations where the change management process involved employees by co-creating the strategy, having employees take responsibility for planning how to implement the change into their daily lives, and openly communicating about the change, saw:
- An increased chance of success from 34% to 58%
- A decrease in implementation time by 33%
- An increase in employee engagement by 38%
- An increased intent to stay at the organization by 46%
In order to see the benefits listed above for yourself, those in people management positions need to engage their employees throughout the process. Here are a few ways to do just that.
How To Get Your Team To Embrace Change
- Seek input
- Encourage questions
- Get feedback
- Redefine responsibilities
- Provide individual support
- Celebrate progress
When you’re the one initiating change, make an effort to seek input from your employees before making a decision. Your team has differing views, knowledge, and ideas, and by tapping into that, you are making them feel involved in the process and a part of its success.
The one question on every employee's mind when change is initiated is, “Why is this necessary?” This information is essential for employees if you expect them to be invested in the change you are asking them to make. They need to have time to ask questions to wrestle with the change in their minds. By encouraging questions, you’re showing them that you want them involved in the process and onboard to embrace change.
So, try not to get defensive when individuals ask questions or are seemingly poking holes in the strategy. Instead, patiently answer their questions and give them the level of clarity they need. In doing so, you are helping them get to the point where they are ready to embrace the change they may otherwise have resisted.
Periodically, seek your team’s input and feedback on how the change implementation is going. Uncover what they feel has been successful and what has been a struggle. Also, seek feedback on how you’re doing as a leader. Given that they are putting the change into action day-to-day, it is likely that what they have to say has value and could positively impact the initiative's likelihood of success.
Collaboratively Redefine Responsibilities and Goals
Once your employees know why they have to change, it’s time to define what has to change, which you can do by redefining goals, expectations, and responsibilities. At this point, it’s best if you do this collaboratively as a team or one-on-one with individual employees to build a sense of ownership and accountability to their part of the change initiative.
As Steve Jobs is noted as saying, “It doesn’t make sense to hire smart people and then tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do.” Equip your team with the rationale for the change and the information they need, then afford them the autonomy to decide how they will make it happen.
Host One-On-One Meetings to Provide Individual Support As Needed
In any change initiative, there will be varying degrees of buy-in from your team. Some individuals may embrace change from the start, while others may struggle with how it may impact them personally. For this reason, you need to set up regular, recurring one-on-one meetings from the get-go. During this dedicated time together, you can provide coaching, reassurance, and support as required to keep up the individual’s morale and momentum.
Plan for Success Together
During a change of any nature, your team will inevitably experience a range of highs and lows, as well as successes and setbacks. For this reason, it is especially important to set milestones (big and small!) that you intend to celebrate throughout the process. These celebrations are what your team will need to keep pushing forward towards the end goal.
Conclusion: develop your change management skills with Niagara Institute
Part of the change process is preparing yourself with the tools, techniques, and skills you need to be a great change leader whose team embraces change not avoids it. The tips listed above are a great starting point, but you will see and feel a real difference in your abilities by participating in a change management training program.
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