I'm on the train! I'm not, however, bellowing into my phone a la Dom Jolly like my neighbour across the aisle. That's another story for another day. Suffice to say: resist and desist from the urge to talk loudly about confidential client information in public. We can hear you!
No, I'm writing now because our e-newsletter this week is about change.
I've just spent a fantastic day with a Board of Executive and Non-executive Directors, part of our discussions focused on change, and I wanted to capture some of their thoughts here whilst it's fresh in my memory.
We talked about change initiatives that they'd been affected by in the past and what made the difference between it feeling like a well - versus a poorly - handled process.
- Being treated like a human versus a number.
- Being given your dignity rather than humiliated.
- Being consulted rather than dictated to/ignored-then being expected to get on in the new landscape.
- Understanding a) the need for the change, b) the process needed to get to the "new world" and c) how success will be measured to name but a few.
None of which I'm sure comes as a surprise, and yet we all know it's rarely the case that we experience change in these ways.
Rather, it's often presented as a fait accompli, resulting in an experience as traumatic as childbirth, the January sales or shopping for a new swimsuit, leaving us battered, bruised and worn down physically and emotionally and vowing "never again".
So, some simple principles for handling change well are:
- Consult with the people within your organisation. Tell them what's happening and why. Find out what they want, and what you're able to offer. Those things may not be compatible but giving them a range of choices to consider will leave them feeling in control.
- Make sure your change plan is shared and updated regularly: even if there's nothing (new) to share.
- Publicise milestones reached and progress yet to be made.
- Invite questions and receive them gladly.
- Thank people for their input and efforts.
Remember that change affects people in different ways. Some will embrace it and just go with it, because it provides them with variety and a talking point. Others will need to ask the same question dozens of times. Others will dig their heels in and refuse to cooperate, because it's scary.
This may well be frustrating for you if you're leading on the change and you just want them to get on with it, but if you've had loads of time to discuss options, reflect and get used to it, you need to allow others to do the same.
This isn't an exhaustive list; you'll have ideas of your own, as will the people you're leading through change.
So, ask them what they'd appreciate from you in times of change, and in return you'll be amazed at what (positive behaviours and skills) they'll bring to the table in return.
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about the author
Nicky Denegri is our Senior Consultant. If you would like to know more about this subject, drop her an email and we will be in touch.