A recent conversation with a client revealed that while they were about 75% finished with the redesign of their organization... they maaaaay have neglected to give much thought to the actual leadership of the change .In other words, they knew what the change should look like on the page. But in terms of whether it would take hold at the employee level - would be bought into and experienced as drawn out? Well, that remained to be seen.
They needed a change strategy. And they needed it fast. REAL fast.
So we pulled the executive leadership team together for a day (jeans, rolled up sleeves, and no shortage of caffeine and sugar) and we facilitated the build of a people-first change strategy sure to engage teams
, capturing the hearts and minds.And we wanted to share today five of the levers which served as the foundation of this highly productive day.
So here goes:
1. Paint the possible but acknowledge the unknowable
Buy-in to change begins with a grand vision. We want to invest our time in painting the possibilities - giving people something to look toward with stars in their eyes. But in order to get the ball rolling, sometimes it's OK to stop there. Leadership teams can get hung up on trying to work through every detail of implementation when the truth is - we simply can't know everything. And certainly it can't all be worked out in the executive suite, absent the voices of the frontlines. So don't let the details hold up momentum. Start with vision and keep on moving!
2. Engage the frontline voice early and often
Rather than operating on a need-to-know basis (i.e., only dripping out information we believe our teams absolutely need), we endorse operating on a need-to-NOT-know basis. In other words, tell them all you can, withholding only the information deemed confidential due to legal or compliance issues. From there, with the cat out of the bag, invite your frontline teams to advise on the change from the very beginning. Rather than telling them "this is the vision and this is how you're going to bring it to life" try instead "this is our vision - what do yourecommend in terms of implementation? How can we work together to make this vision a reality?"
3. Fabricate moments of collaboration
Change embeds best when the right teams work together on the right projects. When thinking about critical points of collaboration in the "to-be" organization, define collaborative opportunities and assign teams to jointly solve a problem, craft an outcome, or answer a critical question. Create an early habit of working together. This will pay off in spades.
4. Give air time to pain points
As glorious a picture as you'll paint (a la the vision), the reality is change will always come with pain. Be it new systems, reporting lines, processes, incentive plans... some part of the change is going to hurt. And unless that pain is truly given air time, true buy-in will remain elusive. Ask your teams how this change will impact them in the negative - and more importantly, ask them what you can do to ease the pain and/or expedite a solution.
5. Act, link, and label
When teams offer suggestions around how to get things to take hold, how to ease the pain of change, propose innovative ideas, or things they'd like to see more of - do not let these ideas fall into a black hole. Acknowledge them. Act on some of them. And when you do indeed action their ideas, make it abundantly clear that you've done so. Be explicit in your communication that you've done a thing as a direct result of an idea proposed by someone on your team. Recognize the boldness, the creativity - whatever you'd like to see more of. Because ideas will only continue to come forth if employees believe you're listening. And without their ideas, this change will be nothing more than a fancy dancy piece of paper with lines and boxes on it.Related: Human Resources Still Fighting for a Seat? It Might Be Time to Find a New Table
What change large or small do you anticipate coming soon within your team or organization
? Is there something within this page that you can leverage? Fingers crossed!