Effective change leadership in any organization must master three realms of personal awareness and expression — what we call Head (enabling people to think differently), Hands (organizing people to do work together), and Heart (engaging people toward a common purpose). This post focuses on “hands” — how to organize people to do work together during a change initiative.
Navigating Successful Change Requires New Ways of Working
The choices leaders make and the actions they take are powerful determinants in the success of every significant change. It’s not just about working differently, but also about guiding people to do different work.
How Does A Change Leader Guide Employees to do Different Work?
- Build teams — Start strategically with the people you need to help lead, and build teams that can emphasize collaboration over competition. Think about what they will need to succeed, from the right mix of skills and capabilities, to the budget that gives them options. It’s important to understand the psychology behind successful teams. (Author and journalist Charles Duhigg wrote an in-depth piece uncovering the keys for why some teams succeed and others falter.)
- Set goals — Set the path and determine the pace with objectives and milestones that balance meaningful progress with achievable wins. Build the milestones of change into specific expectations for individuals and teams. This helps build accountability and ownership, and of course provides measures of success that can be communicated and built upon.
- Manage — Manage with a constant eye on risks, interdependencies and stakeholders. There will be problems, so anticipate, prepare and troubleshoot in real time.
Building Agents of Change, One Agent at a Time
The easiest people to move toward a desired change are the people who are already well aware of its value. This “coalition of the willing” can create a network that interacts with the larger organization at multiple points, modeling change and influencing others. In fact, peer-to-peer influence is more powerful than any policy pronouncement.
Always remember that critical mass doesn’t mean every single person. Not everyone will be at the same place as they move through a change — it’s a bell curve, not a straight line. Some will be well ahead, the majority will be in the middle and a few will be lagging. Once you see this, you can manage without judgment.