5 Ways to Make Change Easier
Some people thrive on change. The constant “newness.” The revolving door of ideas and strategies and tactics. Others, however, need more stability. While change can be good, they want (need?) reassurance to understand how the particular change impacts them.
Whichever end of the spectrum you’re on, there are a few factors that help make change easier:
1. Lead by example. A company’s culture is built from the ground up but leadership has the power to transform it faster by ‘walking the talk.’ Leaders can also destroy the very culture they set out to create if what they say doesn’t align to their actions (i.e. what they actually do). Leaders who maintain a narrow gap between what they say and what they do tend to have more productive teams, more effective employees and a much healthier work environment.
I call this the Say Do Gap and I believe it’s the most important aspect of relationship-building. Your ‘Say Do’ gap is the foundation of trustworthiness, credibility, loyalty … all the buzz words business execs flock to when tasked with growing their business.
2. Over communicate. The biggest mistake companies make is to short-fall communications because it’s perceived to be a ‘soft’ skill. Quite contrary, communication is the most powerful tool leaders have if they want to inspire change, and cultivate positive environments to achieve success.
During transition periods, it’s better to over communicate what’s happening – even if you don’t have all the answers – than it is to go silent. The absence of information is a breeding ground for rumors and untruths.
3. Award desired behaviors. It’s easy to recognize people who bring in new sales, close deals and develop stellar products. These are quantitative measures. It’s much harder to recognize people who live the desired culture. People who bring teams together, empower positive change and make things happen – not for themselves but for the greater good of the company.
Companies are beginning to understand the value of internal networks and rewarding employees on more than financial merit. Much like marketers have embraced WOM and influencer marketing, HR departments are including employee advocates into their programs.
4. Prioritize collaboration. Everyone today is “so busy.” Small organizations in particular suffer from analysis paralysis because each person is wearing multiple hats. There will always be more work and not enough time. And since we are human, we actually have to eat, drink, sleep and socialize. Prioritizing projects and deliverables is one thing, but recognizing the collaboration it takes is essential for success.
In order to get the best possible outcome, prioritize collaboration. This goes beyond talking about it, but rewarding employees for being inclusive or reaching across department lines. It also means allowing the TIME in the day, week, or month for people to actually get together and talk. Any successful company will tell you that this is where the magic happens, but very few actually make it happen.
5. Know that no culture is perfect. If you achieve an 80/20 culture where 80% aligns to your desired culture and 20% is aspirational, then you’re doing real well. We’re human, which means we all have emotions, values and beliefs that impact the situation at hand and sometimes cloud our perception.
What other tips would you offer to those leading change initiatives?