On purpose I have titled this article ‘Helping your team with change’. One often misunderstood concept of change is that we want to change the team or change the people. If this is your starting point, you are doomed to fail. It is not the new situation that often creates the resistance, it is the uncertainty of what is going to happen. Either with the circumstances or with their personal situation. This is the main reason why people object instantly and question the change, often in a very defensive way. Questions like, “Why do I need to change?” or “What is the reason for changing this?”
I therefore recommend to flip this completely. When leading companies and teams, we need to show the vision and direction we are heading for. We also have to show what the new situation will bring. Explain the new situation and show how it is going to be beneficial to the individual. I have seen from experience that people are clever enough to understand that sometimes they need to change in order to commit to a common goal. If your team members do not see the need to change, help them understand it.
Years ago I worked in a company which was not known for embracing change and for over 20 years the company was run in the same way with nothing ever really happening. Then crisis hit our industry and in order to deal with this changed economy, change needed to happen. My starting point was to make clear to everybody what the end goal was and what we wanted to achieve (share the vision). I then explained to everyone what needed to be done (share the mission). At this point people were invited to contribute to the actions that needed to be done.
Many years ago I learned the following:
Tell the team, and they will know
Show the team, and the will remember
Involve the team, and they will learn
It has been on my whiteboard since, and I have applied this in Holland, Sweden and in the UK. And especially when change is concerned it is a very powerful reminder that effective change only happens when people are involved in the process.
The second thing we did was doing DiSC assessments and training with all the office staff, including the foremen of the warehouse. This was never done before and people were very anxious of the outcomes. Be profiled sounded very scary in itself, but what freshened even more was the next step when we discussed the profiles in small groups. The workshops however became a very big success, because people realised that the profiles were actually them. Also they understood that there was no right or wrong in the DiSC profiles. It was an assessment of who they were.
I still believe that one of the other elements for the success was my open involvement as a Managing Director. Also my profile (including some obvious characteristics) were scrutinised by the team. Some of them were basis for some nice banter among the team. For me the most fascinating outcome was to a few members of staff had worked together for decades, without really understanding their co-workers. With that understanding it was much easier to work together, because we all react in different way to various situations.
As said at the beginning. You cannot lead a team or any group from a big tower, shouting instructions. Especially in change processes it is vital you are seen as the leader. Show the team you are also going through the challenges and paces of the change. This will help them to overcome theirs and join you in the process.
Again, change is not scary in itself. The scary bit comes in, if we do not know why we change or what the change is for. Make clear to your team what destination you are heading for and what direction you are going. Trust your team with the responsibility to adjust their own course along with yours. This will give you credibility as a leader and much more success for the change.