Research-Backed Tips for Leaders During Change
Change management consulting experts know that taking a trip and leading change have some similarities that can help leaders better prepare for, navigate, and lead organizational change. Both travel and organizational change:
- Have an embarkation and a destination
- Are most successful when they are well planned
- Can be both exhausting and exhilarating
- Encounter unexpected roadblocks and challenges
- Are marked by milestones along the way
- Often require adjustments or tweaks in the itinerary to keep on track
With so many similarities, it makes sense to look at how to manage change within the context of a taking a successful journey from your current state to your desired state.
5 Research-Backed Tips for Leaders During Change to Ensure Successful Transitions
Based upon feedback from thousands of change management simulation participants:
- Establish a Vision and Secure Employee Buy-in
First, leaders need to be able to clearly articulate a successful vision for change and compelling rationale for embarking upon it. In order for the team to accompany them willingly, change leaders should actively involve those most affected by change to help design the desired new ways of working to achieve the new vision.
And remember, to persuade followers that the time and effort will be well worth it, ensure that the dissatisfaction with the status quo is easy to see, feel, and hear.
For those followers who are reluctant to embark on the change journey, leaders must not neglect to address the natural resistance to change that can stymie employees’ acceptance and commitment to new ways of doing things.
- Map the Route from the Current to Desired State
Whenever possible, actively include stakeholders in the change planning process. Those affected by change need to clearly envision more than the end goal; change travelers like to see how the change will unfold step-by-step.
Active involvement helps employees prepare themselves for the inevitable challenges ahead.
What change management skills will set them up for success? What obstacles might employees encounter? What kind of influence will they have over the pace and length of the journey?
- Maintain Flexibility
Successful change requires a leader’s flexibility to adjust the plan as it evolves. There will always be shifting demands and market realities that will require accommodations if you want to stay on course toward the desired goal.
- Stay Open to Suggestions for Improvement
For employees, change is less anxiety producing if they feel they have some control over its direction. Leaders need to be open to employee ideas and give employees some autonomy over how they choose to engage.
- Focus on the Positive
Be the kind of change champion that cheers progress and buoys team spirits when they lag. Though the path may be bumpy, the goal should remain in view. Everyone can withstand some discomfort as long as their eyes remain focused on the final destination.
The Bottom Line
Successful change is accomplished through commitment, effort, and perseverance. As a change leader, you will succeed only if your followers are persuaded by your compelling message, buy into the vision, participate in the planning, and believe that you have the capability and resources to pull it off successfully. Enjoy the journey!
To learn more about how to better manage organizational change, please download The 5 Ways to Assess Change Leadership – Backed by Science