I’ve written about change a lot in the last year. It’s kinda one of my fascinations in life. Having spent much of my life feeling stuck in situations that were not entirely of my doing or planning or in my control, punctuated by episodes of immediate and sometimes drastic change (like moving to a new state without really considering all the consequences), I would definitely not consider myself a role model for change management.
But what I’ve done in my life is fine for one person. If you are in a relationship (and changing that status is not what you’re thinking) or a leader in business and change is warranted, there are definitely steps that will help make it go more smoothly.
First, you want to have a good base of trust and open communication with all involved. Different people have different levels of tolerance for and comfort with change and like to be more or less involved. It’s good for you to know and understand these things about yourself too, so that you can communicate your needs to others as well.
Second, have your own goals, but also know that things may go awry. There are always conditions outside of your control that can take you off course and that’s OK. Allow for adjustments along the way, but don’t let these roadblocks steer you too far in the wrong direction.
Third, define the new normal or the state you are trying to get to and why. Hone this message and communicate it to everyone. Be consistent. Find people who share your vision and make them your champions. The more people you have on your side, the fewer you will have to convince or just drag kicking and screaming into a new paradigm.
Fourth, take decisive action moving in the direction you outlined and don’t look back. Being hesitant will only decrease others’ confidence in you. Keep lines of communication open for issues that may arise, but don’t waver in the direction of progress.
When you get to the new paradigm, continue communicating and resolving issues as you go. Address concerns by encouraging the resistant folks on the team to give it a try for a period of time and keep listening to them and empathizing. Most of their complaints will fall away over time.