‘So next week we throw out our BAU processes and administrative tools, maybe there will be some personal changes too, but don’t worry it’ll be so much better than before. We’ll be productive from now on.’ – and then the whole office was jumping and celebrating the new processes in a standing ovation.
If the aforementioned picture is unknown to you then the next one will be more like a real-life experience. Half of the office has disappeared to the smoking area to vent out their anger. The ones who stayed are harshly clapping on their keyboard. Half of the monitors are shining in a Facebook messenger light and the other half is trying to load a doc to dust off that old resume or formulate the dismissal notice. If it’s more like a real-life situation to you, then maybe you should change your communication style about change.
As human beings, we are very complicated. We aren’t good at managing change but we easily get bored in our comfort zone. So the best way is to build resilience in time. Here is an article about the hows. After our team is like a rock and nothing can break it, we can begin to take the chosen path in baby steps.
What do we know about change? How do we perceive it?
Change is always volatile. Let’s look at an example. Let’s hypothesize that you want to make a morning run club with your friends. It’s just you and your 2 best friends, a small group. Everybody thinks it’s a great idea, nobody wants to run alone and didn’t have the motivation, so getting up early together will make the magic.
Everybody is committed so there can’t be any difficulties. But it’s a change so
- It can be volatile. Your mood can change, you can have cramps or get information in the morning that’ll hinder you.
- It’s uncertain. Maybe tomorrow will be raining or your running shoes will be stolen.
- It looks simple, but does it? What will be the route? What happens when somebody gets an injury or can’t make it in time? How will you motivate your friends?
- And there is ambiguity… Maybe your goal is the next marathon, but your friend just wants to check out the scenery in the morning or chatting or get that morning juice at the nearby coffee shop.
It’s just a little change with a few well-known people but there can be many obstacles.
As you could have experienced the only way to make a difference is your way. So that means, everybody has to find their way to get used to it. Sure it takes time but 1 or 2 months with committed colleagues in the mess is better than half a year with half of the team.
What do you need?
AVICA style leaders and colleagues.
- A – agile
- V – value-oriented
- I – inspiring
- C – collaborative
- A – appreciative
So as we know this we should just call Kara at the HR department to recruit some people with this skill set. But are you an AVICA style leader? What are your answers to these core questions?
- What are the goals of the company? Is your company running by them? If you ask one of your colleagues what will they say?
- Why do you work, besides money? Why do your colleagues work? What do they believe in? Does it align with the company’s goals?
- Teamwork is a priority. But is it? Are they heard? Do they support each other or just try to work as little as they can?
- Do you appreciate your work? And others? How do you show your gratitude towards yourself and others? (Check out this article about gratitude)
If you have your answers, then you should remember one thing.
As we grow up, we don’t change much. When we were small we wanted to be praised, wanted to be part of a group, and were afraid of new things. But we were curious and brave. So when you get lost in change management, then you should think about your kids or your childhood. Before you begin a fire wave ask yourself. If I do this to my 6 years old me, then how will he/she behave?
We don’t change deep inside, just learn how to behave.
So when you want a big change, then first make sure that your leaders are up to the task and ready to jump into battle.
How do we communicate change?
You can work on it on three levels
The most important thing is to save the new process from gossip. So if you want to implement it then organize a meeting where the main topics should be.
- What will be the change?
- Why do we need it?
- What happens if we don’t change our ways?
- What will be your tasks?
If it’s an over 20 person organization then you should convenience your employee circle by circle. It will take time, so let them think about it for 1 or 2 days or weeks. Make opening hours and meetings so you can be sure that everybody aligns with the new goals. Maybe you get some new perspectives too. Let them ask questions
Normally, people get frustrated. Help them understand and answer all the questions. If there aren’t any hard feelings then you haven’t asked the right way. The more you are afraid of the questions the more you need them. It will help you see all of the gaps and holes in your plan.
Imagine yourself in others’ shoes. Ask them to talk about their losses, doubts, and feelings. Be honest.
On this level, you can have a lingering disadvantage. The I don’t like you one. If you detest someone then it’s really hard to digest a change from them. It can be a personal conflict or a badly executed change or teamwork from before. Dig out the problems and talk about them. Ask for outer help if it’s needed. If the problem is with you then you sure will need it.
Everybody should know their role in the process and the advantages that come with the change. What should they do and how the company will support them to get the required knowledge.
To feel comfortable, we do everything that makes our surroundings personal. Like bringing in that plushie into the office. The coworker who doesn’t have any personal stuff in the office or things they like, they will leave soon. Let your coworkers make your plan homie and shape it to their liking as much as you can. If you trust them, they make the most out of it
There are 4 steps that we go through when a change comes into our lives, but everybody begins on different stages:
Contentment and renewal are easy. It’s the most flourishing part of the work. When you are in these stages be aware that:
Denial and confusion are harder but don’t be afraid. Just think about your 6 years old you.
- New ideas
- Good ideas, happy people
- You love to work, not just have to
- Everybody is frustrated, you too
- If you ask about problems everybody says ‘Everything is fine’ but they are plotting their quit
- Ranting about problems but not searching for solutions
Things to do
- You and your team click
- You appreciate the successes and celebrate them
- They feel like a team
- You have a structure for the now and future ideas too
- Let your team be creative
Things to do
- Give as much information as you can
- Focus on your short term goals
- Share and check information
- Build your team make it stronger
- Appreciate your results
- Have more 1on1s so you can work on individual problems
After everybody is aware of the change, knows every detail and everybody wants it, then comes the real challenge.
Finding the new best process and making it work are two different things. You should not forget to communicate that it’s a pilot and everybody can add to it.
There never has been a process that is perfect from the start.
While you communicate it to your team, be sure that you understand and never forget this sentence. There will be many trials and pilots.
While you are progressing be sure that you get feedback from your clients, users, and team about the new process and give positive feedback to the team. Constantly check your team’s well-being and make sure that their goals are their own, they can align with them.
Monitor, but what?
Add a time limit to the project and bring it down to milestones. Define them and determine how often will be the project inspected. Every day, once a week, monthly?
Be sure that your team members can complete each other and your team leaders are committed to the goals
Convince your leaders and your influencers. Back up the change and help them on their way with constant positive public feedback.
Make retrospectives so every problem, fear, and thoughts can be discussed by the team.
Don’t forget that your employee has their BAU tasks so a change project can be fun but if it adds more work than they can bear then their resistance will be harsh on you
Check this article about the DICE model for more useful tips.
And the most important thing is you don’t forget about yourself. Ask the help of a coach or mentor for ensuring you won’t be stuck in your circle the whole time.