"Change is the only constant”
“We live in a VUCA world”
“Change is the new norm”
And yet, for most of us, change brings up feelings of fear and stress. Our brain is wired to move toward or away from things depending on how they make us feel, so it is no surprise that change can bring out the worst in us. Especially if it isn’t purposefully addressed with and across a team.
We need to own it
As Dr Covey says in his first habit of 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, our responsibility is our ability to respond. So in order to lead our teams through change, we need to teach our teams to take a proactive approach to change in order to ensure they make the right response.
The key is to shift our mindset and behaviours from reactive to proactive. We need to help them move from ‘change cautious’ to ‘change confident’
Being change confident involves having the skills, mindsets and behaviours that enable you and your team to navigate through the change successfully. It involves each layer of the organisation being confident that they will be led through the change in an empathetic and respectful way. Most importantly that they’re not blindsided and not made to feel stupid.
At the core of moving confidently through change is the ability to trust the people, processes and systems that operate within the organisation. By trust, I mean repeatedly delivering on your promises and creating certainty where possible.
The issue is that quite often organisations that move through change don’t completely have the foundations of trust nailed and this can be exacerbated when critical parts of the change management process is outsourced to consultants.
Your job isn’t to solve that problem, but it is your job to provide the individuals in your team a safe environment where you can all openly address the situation. The consequences of not doing this is paralysis by analysis - your team will focus on the uncertainty at the expense of performance and efficiency.
Here is what you can do to lead your team through change and encourage a 'change confident' culture.
Start the conversation: 7 questions to ask
What do we know about the change?
What do we not know about the change?
What are the known consequences and opportunities the change brings?
What are the unknown consequences and opportunities the change brings?
What does this mean to you?
What do you need now to help you through the change?
How can I help?
Continue the conversation
Change is a constant - not a one-stop shop. Continue and build on this conversation over time - focusing on the different questions relevant in the specific moment. As new knowns arise about the change - update the conversation. When new opportunities and consequences present themselves, face them proactively, avoid water cooler speculation undermining your hard work.