Leaders Everywhere: How Can You Lead Changes In Your Team? (Article # 1 of 6)

Practical advice and tools for operational leaders seeking better “mass influence” capability

A “Diet” Change can of soft drink: really this is about change leadership.
Change leadership is an investment.

You might lead several small teams and a sizeable budget. Your team managers are capable and focus on their areas of expertise. Yet when you try to introduce a change to your teams, employees struggle to adjust. Your management team is well-intentioned. Are they too busy to inject the required energy into helping you steer change? This is a fairly normal occurrence and not an obstacle to anyone wanting to successfully lead change.

Organisational change management is a specific discipline. Leading change, even with a dedicated change professional is challenging. Leading operational teams and playing the role of “accidental Change Manager” is even more difficult. Operational leaders learn that leading change is messy and circular. Challenging the status quo is fraught with difficulty. Brave leaders give the “full-time operational leader/part-time change professional” role a go — if this is you, you have come to the right place.

What change practices are easy to put in place? This is the first of six articles. With each article, learn practical advice as you steer change with your employees and management. This advice touches on how you raise your multi-team change maturity, so your teams can weather the storm of many impending changes.

Are you working with your teams on a change, or “doing change to them”?

Implementation is a tiny part of the change.

Change has several parts, including planning and multiple implementation phases. The best changes are either very well thought out or take place in small incremental steps.

Planning, “warming up the audience”, dealing with employee objections: All these precede implementation. Then how are you going to “make change stick” after implementation?

Well-considered change accounts for operational cycles. People’s capacity for change and willingness to change depend on one major variable.

This variable is their ability to adjust to new shocks resulting from new changes. Their “buffer” or tolerance level for stress. If we are introducing change at the worst possible time, how much buffer are they likely to have? If you want your teams to adjust to new ways of working, when can you introduce the change when they are at their best and most receptive?

How would you describe your organisation’s change maturity? What about the capacity to absorb change by each team in your remit? Are there organisation maturity assessments applicable to your team?

Change starts with a careful and frank conversation. Can you aspire to spend twenty per cent of the dialogue asking crucial questions about how each team manager might install a change?

This aspiration bleeds over into the remaining eighty per cent of the conversation: listening. This eighty/twenty aspiration sounds easy in theory, and is difficult in practice. You may even hit a nerve with the people you are speaking with — knowing the SCARF model might help you understand why. Even so, conversations — no matter how uncomfortable — helps you walk away with valuable intelligence. For example, the “how” and “when” of your change implementation. You might learn about other’s perception of the “why” of the change. Also, have you considered asking your employees and managers what a successful change looks like?

The following article looks at how leading change is an investment. Your efforts may bear fruit with focus, systemisation and energy.

The third article explores useful templates and approaches to leading change. These resources help you plan and systemise your change.

Creating a regular drumbeat and exploring your team’s habits is the focus of the fourth article.

We examine systems thinking applied to how you lead change in the fifth article. The last article examines the psychology of change management. Arm yourself with psychological insights to help you influence change in your teams.

Our book — The Change Manager’s Companion — is available now. You can also check out our online course on Change Management.

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Organisational change, behavioural design and coaching psychology insights — practical and research informed. Clever ways to put a dent in the world.

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Allan Owens

Allan Owens

Australian Change Lead: 8 years experience. Author of The Change Manager’s Companion. https://www.humanfactorsadvisory.com.au/the-change-managers-companion

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