Editor’s note: Chuck Inman is a leadership and emotional intelligence specialist and founder of Crystal Clear Motivation LLC.
“Are you kidding me? Weekly meetings?!” Riley says, questioning why Clint, his boss, was calling for weekly staff meetings instead of the longstanding monthly ones. “Is this the beginning of a new form of micromanagement? Why do we have to change now?”
Clint notices Riley’s reaction. The weekly meetings are part of the changes coming to the department. If the team doesn’t meet weekly, they’ll struggle with the new CRM software that’s being implemented. Clint needs Riley on board to help management gain support from the rest of the team.
* * *
Change – it has amazing stopping power, doesn’t it? The very mention of change will get people digging their heels in to protect how they currently do business.
When we undergo change there are three basic phases involved. Each one has an effect on our ability to make the change successful.
The current phase is our comfort zone where we perform our day-to-day activities with confidence. We understand the workflow processes, how to multitask and anticipate the pace of the work. Our sense of worth, productivity, value and status are recognized from being competent in our role in this phase.
Next is the action phase, where we begin to develop new behaviors, values and attitudes. We are now being asked and are asking employees to look at performing work differently, which will disrupt the current way of doing things. We aren’t as sure of the outcomes of our work in the action phase.
Finally we move into the new phase, which is the final stage of crystallizing our thoughts and adapting to ownership of the new change. The new phase is where we will be working in the future. We have questions as we enter it: Will we be recognized for our contributions? Will we have the ability to provide input and have a share of voice? Will we be able to provide value and be flexible?
Here are four key steps that will help people move through the three phases of change.
1. Create a clear view. Explain why the change is taking place. Understand where you are going and why it is important for the team to reach the destination. Be able to articulate clearly so members of your team understand the reason for the change. Also, explain the value of their role in this change process.
2. Move quickly. One of the success strategies for nimbly moving through change is to get to the new phase as quickly as possible. Get started by moving through the action phase and find a footing in this new phase where you can begin to experiment with new ways of doing things. Look at the resources and skills you are bringing with to assist you. Your problem-solving, analytical and time-management skills are all tools that will help. Recognize that some things will be ending, some will be continuing and some will be new because of the change. When you can identify those items it takes the fear of the unknown away.
3. Communicate continuously. Don’t assume because you told people once they fully understand the reason and process for change. Communicate consistently and often. Use different media. Don’t assume an e-mail or Web/intranet site will be read and all questions will be answered. Regularly ask for feedback on what’s working and what’s not. Ask members of your team to describe back to you the reason for change and why it is important. This will let you determine if they understand why the change is taking place. Continue this exercise throughout the phases of change as reinforcement.
4. Recognize early achievements. Try to attain small victories and accomplishments early and celebrate these small wins quickly. Don’t wait for monthly or quarterly reviews. Note the accomplishments weekly, or even daily for some milestones. Give credit where credit is due. You build value and show yourself and others that they have the ability to act and make progress in the change process.
* * *
Clint sat down with Riley and discussed the importance of changing to weekly meetings. He explained doing so would give Riley and his team more focus, accountability and empowerment in implementing the new software program. Instead of micromanagement, it would allow them to establish credibility quickly and be more productive moving through the process. Once Riley saw the reasons behind the weekly meetings and their importance, he accepted the change.
When you understand the three phases of change and how to navigate them, then you CAN be successful in handling change and reaching your objectives.