Benjamin Franklin stated the obvious: “We must, indeed, all hang together, or most assuredly we shall all hang separately.” Of course, business change is rarely as dire as revolution, but the fear they face is often about that real to your team. Giving them opportunity to offer structured input and solutions can fuel courage and determination just as Franklin’s words did years ago.
Moving fast to implement change is core to keeping productivity levels from plummeting. Evaluating team understanding, direction and performance regularly and with transparency are key drivers toward that objective. Pulling the team together in a way that meets the need to ‘hang together’ and make productive adjustments while corralling energy-draining emotions is not an easy task. Here are some concepts used by consulting professionals.
ESSENTIAL MOTIVATORS: SUCCESS & OPPORTUNITY
During times of tension you are always pulled toward urgent issues that smell like smoke. Distractions can keep people from standing tall and seeing over the cubical to acknowledge progress or to remove barriers in the targeted path. These two energy-generating realities are too often ignored during all the fire-fighting. STOP and make time for these essential motivators.
- Keep their successes in front of them as often as possible – a little confetti always brings energy to the moment!
- Make opportunities to identify and remove obstacles that inhibit forward movement; the stress-reduction can give an immediate productivity boost.
WHAT ARE OUR CORE SUCCESSES?
Make celebrations of success easy enough to do often, but only recognize actions driving real progress. Celebrating not only boosts morale, it motivates the habits and actions you want repeated. Don’t celebrate anything that wasted time or effort – those are too precious during change! Teach your people what “successful” looks like, and allow them to help identify it: showing peer gratitude, appreciating worthy sacrifices and effort, sharing the booty [especially credit] when possible. Limit the use of tangible rewards; money’s often tight, so use creativity: email words of gratitude for smart initiative, use public thanks appropriately, document accomplishments in review or resume-ready formats, give the microphone to those who can present recognition professionally, use small displayable symbols that bring recognition and encouragement to individuals who have made a difference in meeting short-term goals.
WHAT ARE OUR CRITICAL OPPORTUNITIES?
- Be prepared to face tough facts with as much transparency as possible when asking, “What’s standing in our way?” Be ready to adjust team expectations as hidden realities are exposed.
- Don’t forget to empower the team by asking, “What’s standing in our way that you can control?”
- Make sharing input easy for the team; offer anonymity when necessary. Build and extend trust to gain their input – don’t just assume or blindly believe they have shared the realities you need to know.
- Don’t shoot the messengers; don’t react by trying to prove there is no problem: both are rookie moves.
- As a leader, as you commit to help remove barriers, PROMISE CAREFULLY!
- The greatest career advantage during change is growing transferable skills and lessons!
- Help employees format their ideas for other professional audiences that need their input.
- If they are not showing professional savvy as they share solutions, be transparent about their career growth needs.
These critical team initiatives are very complex. You may be expert when business is usual, but during significant change, leading others definitely becomes UNusual. Be wise enough to ask for support. Change management has evolved into a core leadership competency, but it is a layered and complicated skill. Our experience supporting leaders and guiding teams through organizational change puts us in a place to meet you at whatever level you need.
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