Join Britt Andreatta for an in-depth discussion in this video Facilitating change, part of Leadership Fundamentals.
No matter what industry you're in, you're dealing with change. If for no other reason than the fact that technology is changing so fast. Some industries are built on change, and are in fact about getting others to change. Like fashion for example. They sell change for every season. Change happens all the time, but the impact of change can be either positive or negative. Did you know that 70% of change initiatives fail? Think about that. This statistic represents a huge loss of time, energy, and money. and this failure is due mainly to poor leadership, because the change process was not correctly facilitated, dooming the initiative and possibly the organization. This is because people focus mainly on the change, and they forget to address the transition.
Let's take a common example. Serena is promoted to a new position, regional director. Change is the structural shift that occurs, like the new job description, placement on the org chart, and the moving of her belongings to a new office. It's factual and unemotional. Transition on the other hand, is the psychological process that involves the human thoughts and feelings that accompany any change. In this case, Serena may be thrilled for this opportunity, but feels some sadness at leaving her team. Other people may also have reactions such as happiness for Serena or even worry about what this change might mean for them. And this is what facilitating change is all about, Tending to the psychological process of transition.
Research has shown again and again, that humans have a fairly predictable pattern when it comes to change. In fact, it's called the change curve and it looks like a roller coaster. While there might be excitement, there's an initial and sometimes dramatic drop in productivity and morale. Effective leaders can impact the change curve, by making the hills less dramatic and shortening the length of time the process takes. All of this can result in huge savings in all key measures of performance and productivity. The three key strategies I want to give you today are these. Number one, empower people in the change process. This means that instead of pushing people to change which triggers resistance, you genuinely involve them in designing and implementing the change. Bring the people who will experience the change into the decision making process early, and have them co-create the change.
This not only creates buy in, but you will yields far more effective ideas because the people who are most impacted can bring their experience to the table. Number two, build and maintain trust. Because of the emotional nature of change, you want to do everything you can to create a culture of trust. This means clarifying the organization's intentions with a change, being reliable by matching your words to your actions, and being trustworthy by honoring your agreements. You can't build trust overnight, so if your organization has low trust, you should first prioritize building it, before you tackle big changes. Number three, tend to the power of habit.
Recent research has shown that humans are by and large, creatures of habit. Every day we engage in habit loops that have been built over time and in many cases, are quite grooved, both behaviorally and neurologically. Think about your own day, habit is behind your commute to the office, how you behave in meetings, and even how you answer your phone. When we implement change, we are simultaneously asking people to break old habits that are well grooved, familiar and comfortable. To be replaced by new behaviors that are not yet habits, and are therefore unfamiliar, sometimes awkward and uncomfortable.
Even Serena whose going to a new and exciting role, will have some discomfort as she learns new habits for her position. Luckily, Serena's supported by a clear visual reminder as she has a new office. But what about the majority of people who must change while sitting at their same desk and doing their same job. Effective leaders facilitate the change process by intentionally shifting old behaviors. They create an ending to the old way, even if it's symbolic. And then generate excitement about the implementation of the new way. Here's an example.
If you're moving people to a new space or building, have some kind of symbolic closure of the old, like a casual gathering with food, and share a few words about all the great things that happened in that space. When you get to the new space, have a grand opening of sorts, where you acknowledge some of the key changes and you talk about what you hope to accomplish there. Effective leaders are patient, and allow people time to make the transition, knowing that after about 40 repetitions of the new behavior things will settle down. Think about how you can use these strategies to facilitate change in your organization.
As a leader, you have a powerful role to play in helping others move through change.
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- What is leadership, and when are you leading?
- Mapping your leadership competencies
- Dealing with changing scope and stakes
- Motivating and engaging others
- Increasing team performance
- Developing political acumen
- Creating a culture of trust and integrity
- Developing resilience<br><br>
- The PMI Registered Education Provider logo is a registered mark of the Project Management Institute, Inc.