With the world changing as quickly as it is not having time to change is no longer a viable option. Many companies and traditional markets are being disrupted through technological evolution; competitors operating in the space more efficiently; more intelligent, lean or agile newcomers gaining traction or simply by becoming irrelevant.
One of the most worrying things to hear when an organisation is about to embark on a change programme is their leaders saying that they don’t have time to change. However, it’s a bit of a catch 22 because in most cases it’s true — they are too busy and they don’t have the time. I’ve seen their diaries. I know and sympathise with the pressures they are facing.
What happens in far too many of these cases is that the leaders at all levels of the organisation begin to take on slightly more work. They begin to deliver a complex programme of change on top of their already demanding day job. Things begin to get squeezed and pressure rises.
So, aside from the obvious (properly planning and resourcing the change…we’ll assume that this has happened to some degree) what can be done?
Many leaders are doing things that others in the organisation should be doing — plain and simple. This is most prevalent in organisations that like to promote from within because what tends to happen is that there are certain things from the previous role that they don’t let go of. Or, because they’re the expert and they’ve been there things get escalated and pushed up the chain more than they need to. Have a look around…are there things that you could be asking those that work with and for you to help out with, even temporarily? Good delegation ensures that all parties are set up to succeed, it’s not about shifting blame early or hanging someone out to dry. This means that good delegation includes a sense of accountability and recognition.
In my experience what happens on change programmes is that there are a few ‘stars’. These are typically people who are excited about the change and see it as an opportunity to step up. These people are invaluable to your organisation. Get them engaged, get them on board and give them an opportunity to stretch their capability. And, when they’ve done a good job don’t forget to tell them!
During most change programmes the organisation will be under extra pressure. Change programmes are usually about delayed gratification — going through a valley to get to the good times that lie ahead. Be upfront about this. Tell your people. Tell your customers. Tell your teams. Tell your suppliers. Anyone that will be touched or affected in any way by the change programme should know about it so that they can adjust their expectations or make any necessary changes that they need to. A lack of transparency frustrates everyone.