Is Change a Trick or Treat?
Ah, Halloween. That time of year when we sit in the dark pretending not to be home when ‘trick or treaters’ call. Or is that just us?
Only joking – we love the meaningless, ruthlessly commercial, celebration as much as the next person and it has sparked a thought – do your people see change as a trick or a treat?
We’ve been doing a lot of work on managing change and leading culture change with clients recently – inevitable when you consider that ‘change’ (or more accurately, the speed of change) is one of the biggest things catching companies out at the moment. It’s hard to hit the target when the ghoulposts are constantly moving.
The need to be agile and change quickly brings a challenge for leaders – speed and accuracy are often mutually exclusive. Do I get it right, but go slow (creeping death) so by the time the change is implemented it’s out of date? Or do I go quickly and make mistakes? We think you’ll agree that option 1 isn’t even an option, so it leads to the question: how to act with speed without leading to a spook-tacular failure.
There are two approaches to this diff-occult challenge. One is management and the other leadership.
First, to management.
Despite needing to move quickly, there is no excuse for cutting corners. To quote Senge, ‘People don’t resist change, they resist being changed.’ You need a clear plan and strong processes that are executed excellently.
You must give clarity on the Direction. What’s changing and why? What are the business reasons for the change and what is your vision for the future? Without that, people have lots of unanswered questions, which often leads to a fight or, erm, fright response. They assume it’s a trick.
Next is designing the change and making sure that everything is covered – processes, structures, reward, resources, etc. The more you plan upfront, the less chance of being caught in a spider’s web of confusion when you come to implement the change.
Lastly, you need to make sure you have the capability in the leadership team to deliver the change and that everyone has the new skills, knowledge and behaviours to deliver the vision.
Second, to leadership.
This is about having the right culture in the organisation. One that embraces change as a way of life, that rewards agility and adaptivity, where standing still is seen as terminal by everyone. In fact, this makes change less of a ‘thing’ and more normal business practice.
(There’s much more to say on culture change, so we’ll save that for another day).
Having both these things in place will give you the best chance of delivering fang-stastic, on-going change – which will keep you in step with your customers, ahead of the competition, profitable, and with spirited, engaged and motivated teams.
Now that sounds like a treat.