Change: Six letters, one word. A word most often used negatively. Feared and hated more often than it is loved and embraced.
We all experience some form of change in our daily lives, be it big or small. Life simply does not exist without change. If approached the right way, change is most often a positive representing an opportunity for the future.
To lead a change effort within an organization, you must recognize your team will ultimately determine success or failure for the change and each individual on your team will move at a different pace. With this, it is important to see change as a process as opposed to something that can instantly happen to achieve desired result.
From my experience in leading significant change initiatives over the last few years, the change process should have focus in the following areas:
- Accept change: Change is a constant and a needed part of our lives. Without change, things become mundane and stale. Change enables us to continue learning, develop a better way of doing things and achieve our dreams. The opportunity with change is that most people tend to resist change. Those that embrace change use it to their advantage to achieve success.
- Control your “controllables”: Things happen that are beyond our level of control. How we manage those things to ensure it doesn’t get in the way of delivering great execution is a key component of success. I like to remind myself of a line from Viktor Frankl’s Mans Search for Meaning; “Man is not free from his conditions, but he is free to take a stand towards his conditions”.
- Develop a plan: Before initiating a change effort, a well-thought plan needs to be in place to ensure success. This plan should be grounded in good reasoning, include timelines and key milestones and involve all players of your team on some level. Individuals on high performing teams know the specific role they play to drive success for the broader team.
- Share your vision: To win with change, you will need an engaged team shooting for the same goal. With this, you must make the case for change with your team. Being more specific with detail and remaining committed to open communication will ensure the team remains engaged and will minimize rumors that can erupt during change efforts.
- Expect the unexpected: Things happen. Deal with it. Regroup. Move on. Remind yourself that some of the best hits come off the curveballs thrown your way.
- Celebrate key milestones: Change efforts can often be long tedious processes and it is critically important that you and your team know the score along the way. In addition, take time to celebrate the small wins along the way. Celebration brings fun into the process and will motivate your team to push for the finish line.
- Close the loop: Before a change effort is fully complete, you must formally close the loop with your team. This step is often overlooked and change efforts fail as a result. Closing the loop should be done as a group and individually. Key questions to answer include: What are the early wins with change being implemented? Is the change achieving the desired results? What are the barriers to the change being fully implemented? What could we have done better to implement the change?
It may be a cliché used too much but the pace of change will only continue to accelerate. What won’t change is the opportunity realized by having solid principles and processes in place executed by a great team.
*Director, Walmart & Sam’s Club Team – Starbucks
*Title and company of the author reflect their position at the time article was written.
The opinions expressed here by guest bloggers are their own, not necessarily those of Stout Executive Search.