A recent study by Harvard Business Review found that 66% of change initiatives fail to achieve their desired business outcomes. The four most common reasons are Employee resistance, Communication breakdown, Insufficient time devoted to training and Staff turnover during transition. These are all people-orientated breakdowns.
With the knowledge that participative Leadership, employee engagement and honest communication are prerequisites for successful change, discover our top 5 ways to lead change better in your organisation.
1. Change starts with a vision
As Steven Covey communicates in his seminal book “7 habits of highly effective people”, “Begin with the end in mind” and do so in a way that commands a level of urgency. Ask yourself and your teams what the big WHY is. What do you actually want to make happen in the future you want and what results do you want to achieve collectively? Whilst change is undoubtedly uncomfortable for many and will create fear and anxiety, it is important at the outset to engage both the emotional and the intellectual energies of the team by focusing on a motivating Future. Top leadership sponsorship and a participative leadership style have been shown to be two of the most important factors for successful change initiatives.
2. Communicate or Fail
Did you know that managers who communicate change effectively can improve their direct reports’ performance by as much as 29.2%? (Corporate Leadership Council, 2009). Two of the top success factors for change are employee involvement and honest and timely communication. A compelling two-way engagement strategy builds trust and commitment. Be innovative and relevant in utilising multiple channels to engage a broad inclusion of people at different levels of the organisation. This is significantly more effective than forcing generic communications into over-utilised in boxes. Ineffective communication can lead to fear, loss of motivation and resignations at a time when you need your team most.
3. Empower action
Building a corporate culture that motivates and promotes change requires the right combination of support and challenge. This means getting regular feedback from team members across the organisation and acting on that feedback. Identify who the key stakeholders of the project are and ensure that key influencers are behind the change and are influencing the success of it from the outset. Also understand who the resistors are and why. Enable the right skill development of your team to facilitate the change through empowering Learning & Development Initiatives that create sustainable performance improvement. Focus on one or two goals at a time and ensure that these goals are celebrated before moving on to any new initiatives.
4. Celebrate short term wins
Celebrating short-term wins will help to nurture trust in the change effort. Rewarding success can come in many forms, both financially and often even more effectively via meaningful recognition. This focus on both short term and long term success can help to keep the critics at bay, as well as building momentum and encouraging high performance. By creating short-term wins, and being honest with feedback, progress is achieved far quicker and people continue to be inspired to over perform. Create a system that promotes optimism and builds self-confidence, rewarding excellence and at the same time deals with any resistors of change. As this momentum builds, you will find that fewer people resist the change and more people go the extra mile to fulfil the vision.
5. Develop your resilience toolkit
People who learn techniques to become more resilient, are more likely to overcome challenges and become more open and able to seize new opportunities. Given that change is a constant in today’s business context, preparing yourself and your teams for change and learning to thrive in it comes from learning how to be more resilient – emotionally, mentally and physically. Learn new ways to build your personal resilience and that of your teams, so that when faced with challenges, you are able to face them with a flexible, not a fixed mindset. An effective first step is to recognise which personal qualities undermine your resilience today and which qualities boost it. How can you learn to develop those qualities that serve you best?