Change is one of those unavoidable things that nobody wants to have to face, but all must concede to. This is so much more the case in this technological new world, where every three seconds, software evolves and new technologies usurp the old. Heaven forbid a company be a picosecond behind the times! Well, this puts a heck of a lot of stress on the employees. Change is unpleasant, and of its many challenges, applying effective change leadership has got to be the biggest.
Ok, we’re not going to sit here and jaw on about models or Lewin’s theories of freezing and unfreezing, or any of that jargon crap that normally has to be discussed, when you get into change.
No, we’re just going to look at what onus lies on you, as the leader, in a change project. Achieving effective change leadership is a real tight rope walk, as you’ll see shortly.
But Freezing is an Issue:
Yes, freezing is still an issue to discuss, but not from Lewin’s perspective. We know that people are naturally inclined to have comfort zones and routine. They don’t like to be pulled out of it.
So, even if they want to cooperate and know it will help things, a natural and impossible to fully suppress reticence is going to be there. That adds to the problem we’re getting to shortly.
Logistics, Oh Boy:
As a leader, you’ll need to be able to read implications in various analytics and logistics involved in change. You should see problems an employee is having before they have to bring it up. You should also have a solution (a pleasant one) ready before approaching them, or before they approach you.
Ultimately, though, the biggest logistical obstacle is to pace change so that it gets done at a practical speed, but not so fast it stalls the organization or strongly disconcerts the employees.
And now we come to the big problem with leadership in change. You will look like this annoying pest to the employees when you first come in. You imply some unspoken judgment about their competence and the quality of their work.
You threaten to shake the status quo, and make them all feel like novices again, after years of the comfort of familiarity. And on top of that, they have to have their busy, predictable day disrupted by your annoying tinkering.
On top of that, the fact you’re there will add to this a sense that jobs are endangered, and that makes them fear you, and fear what they perceive you to represent.
So, it’s all about winning them over. Sell the change to overcome freezing. Befriend everyone, be informal but appropriate, and stay on the tune that it’s just to make everyone’s lives easier, not to correct insufficiencies in anyone. Most of all, be sure they know you’re not the harbinger of pink slips, only the harbinger of convenience after a little work.
Now all you need, besides one of the models we’re not discussing here, is a solid training model. Pick something besides classrooms. Consider software like WalkMe to make training faster and more parallel.
Accomplishing effective change leadership is a challenge, but if you take this to heart, and think about it before engaging anything, you should be fine.
Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.