Ditch the Rose-Colored Glasses

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It is necessary to energize your team when you announce upcoming change.  But proclaiming an overly ‘Pollyanna’ perspective can drain that energy fast, so be wise about trying to get them to see the advantages from your viewpoint too quickly.  Physical resistance can be palpable in a room full of people being told they will be forced to make a significant change they didn’t choose.  And when the deliverer is unrealistically positive about the upcoming experience, trust in the message and in the messenger often suffers.

This is not a difficult concept; you’ve had change forced on you in your career.  You are familiar with the internal betrayal and push-back that humans must work through before they are ready to support or embrace the new direction.  Demonstrating the assumption that you have the magic to persuade others to skip that emotional transition is foolish and is often interpreted as an arrogant refusal to acknowledge the realities and struggles you are requiring of people.  The beautiful picture of success painted in your words can sound like lunacy to those who are mentally listing the obstacles between their reality and your vision.  And lunatics are suspected to be unpredictable and untrustworthy – even when they are admired.

People Need More Than the Vision

Yes, when you announce that change is coming, you must share the future results that will hopefully improve the business, your customer results and your employees’ careers or daily lives.  But to ensure your optimism doesn’t produce dangerous doubt balance that pretty picture with two more elements.

People must also understand why the business cannot continue to follow the current path.  They must feel a dissatisfaction with whatever negative effects will result from failing to make a change.  Give your group a high-level understanding of the short shelf-life of the status quo.

Your team also needs to be confident in a plan to get them safely from today to your vision of tomorrow.  Convince them you know they need a good plan – and share any contribution opportunities they may have in building it.  Acknowledge your awareness of challenges to be overcome – without discouraging them.

You’re the leader; you’ve already been through your own emotional revolt when you realized the change was needed.  But if you had a choice about making this change, your response was not as severe as your team’s will be when you surprise them with it.  And by the time you tell them, you’ve filtered through many feelings and have arrived at an excitement level of belief in the possibilities.  You need the energy this faith in the future provides!  But don’t let that fire-hose of passion frighten people away from the journey.

If you need support creating a solid strategy for leading your team or group through change, we can help show you the pitfalls and the bridges.  Revealing the journey to them is just the first small, crucial step!