Good leadership is sometimes defined by the ability to effectively manage change. Creating buy-in for change initiatives often centers on skillful navigation and communication strategies.
Show me a team processing change and I’ll show you people concerned or struggling to create buy-in. Buy-in doesn’t have to be some elusive nebulous buzzword that everyone knows they need but no one knows how to create it.
Skillfully navigating or leading workplace change can be much easier when you keep these five tips in mind:
- Acknowledge and highlight successful changes in the past no matter how small. Collective wins build confidence and confidence is often one of the missing factors when it comes to getting teams over the hump. If you don’t have any past collective wins share stories that highlight others determination, persistence, and abilities to overcome obstacles.
- Openly share what you know about the change and what you don’t know. Today we hear so much in the news about transparency, likely because it is relevant for establishing and building trust. When it comes to change, most people don’t like surprises. When everyone knows what to expect and when they’ll feel more comfortable and trusting while transitioning.
- Include short term goals as required to keep the feeling of progress and accomplishments high. We’ve often heard that small steps lead to big wins and this is definitely true when it comes to change efforts. Even focusing on the smallest win will help keep people from straying into a focus on work that might have required do-overs, direction changes, or re-work.
- Be as fluid as possible, allow room for approaches or solutions that may be different, but will still achieve the end result. Too often rigidity stops progress and front-line people are well versed in assessing speed and alternative approaches to getting the desired results. It might not appear on the project roadmap, but fine tune any project approach by accepting detours that don’t derail progress and still achieve the desired end result. Be fluid.
- Repetitively acknowledge all efforts that are consistent with the new vision and objectives. Be a strong role model by modeling the behaviors that align with where you are going while also highlighting and acknowledging others who have already transitioned or who are making positive progress. What you focus on is what you get and that is definitely true during change efforts.
Nobody said change was easy, and nobody said that everyone will like it, but just because it is hard or unpopular doesn’t mean that it isn’t a good idea or necessary. You’ll almost always meet resistance to change and have to carefully transition through any change effort by being an exceptional communicator. Effective communication helps build the trust and integrity that are required to navigate even the most delicate situations; it also is the foundation for great leadership.
Dennis E. Gilbert is a business consultant, speaker (CSPTM), and coach that specializes in helping businesses and individuals accelerate their leadership, their team, and their success. He is the author of the newly released book, Forgotten Respect, Navigating A Multigenerational Workforce. Reach him through his website at DennisEGilbert.com or by calling +1 646.546.5553.