By Thyonne Gordon, Ph.D.
CEO, Beyond Story
AABLI alumna, Class #3
If we take the same route every day and it works—why change? The same applies in our business lives:“Why fix it if it ain’t broke?”
Another route might be more scenic, but unless we’re willing to shake up our routine, we can miss a fantastic view of the lake and the mountains.
In business, shaking things up is a lot more difficult. Most change is met with resistance. Resistance can be as subtle as procrastination or as distressing as an outright rebellion. In any event, when things are working well, change seems illogical. I’ve found, however, that in all things, change is going to happen. The best strategy is to equip your team with a change network.
Just what is a change network? It’s a plan of action to incorporate change that involves your team and/or stakeholders. A change network minimizes the surprise element and stressful nature of change. When creating a change network within your organization, consider these tips:
- Communicate Certainty with Processes: Life is so much easier when you know what’s coming your way. The more you create a sense of certainty within your organization, the easier it is to adapt to the certainty of change.Create processes and guides in all areas that might cause disruption when change occurs. Start with a clear message about your organization’s status. If times are tough, share that message directly. Explain the process that will help you operate during lean times. Include timetables and simple, step by step guidance. Walking with your leader on a cliff, risky as it may be, is much better than blindly stepping off the cliff.
- Give Control Choices to the Team: Resistance to change is often about people feeling a loss of control. Allow your team members choices within your change process so they feel empowered in their space. Invite the team to be part of the planning and see how they step up as owners. Some of the best and most innovative ideas come from leaders who share their message of change with open dialogue. Teams that are part of the change evolution lead to problem resolution!
- Develop a Change Vision Strategy: In John Kotter’s book, Our Iceberg is Melting, he points out an eight-step process of change. Step three—develop a change vision strategy—can occur even when change isn’t necessary.A change vision strategy clarifies how the future will be different from the past and lets the team know how to make the future a reality. A proverb from the Bible says, “Without vision the people perish.” Make sure your company continues to exist. Plan with future vision.
- Help Your Team Feel Differently About Change: When we think differently about change, it can enhance how we handle change. However, when we feel differently about change, more productive and exciting results occur.Thinking about change means we’re analyzing information and being very logical within the process. However, feeling differently allows the imagination to run free, allowing us to visualize an experience.Think of the last cool gift you received from a loved one—maybe a watch or a Playstation. Now think about the actual loved one and the experience of receiving a gift from that individual. Experience always trumps tangibles, so give your team the feeling of change—the sticky parts and the good parts. In feeling the best and worst of change, teams are better prepared to assess and figure out solutions.
- Change Can Be Good: When we think of change, we often think of what we’re losing and what’s left behind. Shift the feeling of loss by focusing on what you’re gaining. If your organization has to move from a great location, share the possibilities of growth in the new location. Accentuate the positive and while you’re at it, remember to enroll team members as ambassadors for change.
Your vision strategy of change could actually ignite some changes in your team. Once people understand that the organization welcomes change, they are freer to share ideas and thoughts that can enhance the business.
Embracing change can be just the change you need! It’s what leadership is all about.
This blog is not written by aabli.org or The African American Board Leadership Institute. The author is solely responsible for the content.