Many managers and senior leaders still don’t recognize that bringing about behavior change (and ultimately culture change) in an organization is about more than “just do it”.
Yes, people will fear for their jobs and will likely display the new, required behaviors for some period of time but if you really want behavior change to stick, and your organization needs it to for future success, there are a few important steps to take:
1. Recognize that people need information and context
You, as senior leader, may see the competitive threats, the declining revenue and the increasing budgets but your staff may not. Helping them to understand (without scaring them, of course) the relevance and urgency of what you are doing — and why — can illustrate that it isn’t just change for change’s sake.
2. Lay out a plan
You may be clear about what needs to happen, when and how but your staff doesn’t have the same information you do. A clear roadmap – where you are going, when and how and then the process and steps to get there are key. Ask someone outside your leadership team to review it – it should be clear even to those not involved what is expected.
3. Open the lines of communication
Be ready for feedback that says, “I still don’t understand how to do this.” or, “I’m not sure how this applies to me.” Be happy that your staff is talking to you! Listen to them to learn how to improve the process.
4. Follow through
One of the biggest issues with any change effort (think losing weight, exercise plans, finding a new career, etc) is that the objective sounds great, the plan is in place but day-to-day life intervenes and we don’t make change happen. Establish regular check-ins, milestones and feedback loops to ensure the change you desire is taking place.
It’s possible to move mountains but it takes thoughtful, careful planning and communication to do so.
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