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Jump In! the Water's Fine...

Do you ever feel like you are trying to get people on board with something and they are refusing to even consider the idea? As leaders it’s our job to help bring along our teams and organizations, which is often more challenging than it seems. Interestingly, this type of change management is a large component of the leadership role but many leaders receive very little training on how to apply the concept.

How the Story Goes

Let’s take the example of Mark, general manager at Big City Grocery Store, who has been asked by the corporate office to cross-train his entire staff to both cashiers as well as stockers. Historically, the store had enough employees for everyone to focus on only one role, but with staffing shortages everyone is being asked to fill in where needed. Upon receiving the request from upper management, Mark was nervous because he knew his employees were extremely change adverse. They also already had plenty of work to do in one role, so he knew the staff were going to be overwhelmed with this directive to cross train.

What is Change Management?

Simply put, change management is really the process of getting people to accept and move forward with a new process, with hopes of positive outcomes on the other side. For any leader that has tried to implement change in their organization, you know how tremendously hard it is to do this. Humans are feeling beings who think, who usually respond emotionally first way before their logical minds have time to process the situation.

Pillars for Successful Change

So, what should Mark do in order to effectively lead this change, while being considerate of the actual people he is leading? These five pillars are intended to be used throughout the implementation, all done continuously from project start to finish for optimal success.

  • Communicate, then Communicate Some More

Providing clear and frequent communication is the most important part of change management. People want to understand why this is happening, feel their concerns are acknowledged, and have opportunities to offer feedback. The modes of communication should include organization wide messaging, small group discussions, and one-on-one conversations with key influential personnel.

  • Shape your Message for Every Stakeholder

People will likely fall into one of three categories (1) change champions, (2) nervous naysayers, or (3) indifferent individuals. You will have to work with people in each category to plan, implement, and systematize the change so it is key to shape your message different ways to bring all people along.

  • Be Transparent with The Plan

Being transparent is often the hardest part of leading change. Even if you don’t have all the answers, being honest about that is critical to prevent excess stress in your organization. This is why communication is #1 on the list. If people trust their leadership is communicating everything they can, then the likelihood of successful implementation of the change is much higher.

  • Create a Culture of Innovation

Hopefully this is something you as a leader have already instilled in your teams and organization prior to any major happening. Understandably this is not reality in many situations, so take this opportunity to set the stage for the future. Encouraging innovation, change, and growth mindsets will have exponential returns on your investment.

  • Review Progress and Adjust as Needed

When developing your implementation plan, make sure to include project milestones and intentional opportunities for feedback from your stakeholder throughout the process. Waiting until the end to see if your change was implemented successfully is a recipe for disaster. Part of the purpose of asking for feedback is to continue cultivating buy in, but also allows a leader to find any unforeseen implementation challenges that can be fixed more quickly in real time.

Leading through change is not always easy, but these pillars are a smart way to get through the process. As leaders, we need to remember that we need to bring other people along to keep our organizations running and achieve our goals. What better way to accomplish this than with these simple change management pillars in your toolbox!


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