All change models mean there will be a journey from one place/state to another. This journey is unlikely to be simple and most of us go through several stages of misunderstanding before we get to the destination. Here are four themes that can be explored to help people on the journey. There are others!
Give them a challenge
Stimulate people into change by challenging them to achieve something remarkable. Show confidence in their ability to get out of their comfort zone and do what has not been done before. This can work particularly well with small groups, as well as individuals. Once the group has bought the challenge, with some support from you they will bounce off each other to make it happen. It is most effective when the people create their own stretch goals, so rather than telling them to do something, challenge them to achieve greatly, then, when they are fired up, ask them how far they can go.
If people are having difficulty in managing to adapt to change and you, or your colleagues, have coaching skills and enough time, working with people one to one can be particularly effective. But you do need to know what you are doing – so it really is worth using only those who have been trained in coaching. If you can afford it ,you can hire an executive coach to helppeople through this time. Coaches need the time and skills to understand the individual person and uncover their internal problems which are causing them problems. This is an expensive method and it is usually reserved for senior executives. It can be a good investment for the senior business manager who has to go through change themselves while leading their team through the change
Use skilled facilitators to support change activities (if you don’t have any, either hire them in or train your own). Facilitators can be used to guide various group events, from brainstorming and planning to improvement projects and change activities. Facilitators can also act as team coaches, helping people to improve within themselves and work together in better ways. Often in change people know what needs doing, but they do not know how to change or work together in the new context. Facilitators literally ‘make things easier’. They do this in meetings and group sessions by owning the process whereby decisions and other activities are done, although they never own the content. Thus, they will help you make a decision, but they will not make the decision for you. Facilitators are particularly useful for leaders who want to engage in the meeting without worrying about its process. Normal coaching feeds people, helping them solve problems without teaching them how to solve problems. ‘Developmental Facilitation’ seeks to teach people to fish, for example by having sessions at the end of meetings where dysfunctional behaviors are surfaced and discussed.
Education and Training
Teach people about the need for change and how embracing change is a far more effective life strategy than staying where they are or resisting. Teach them about the models and methods of change, about how to be logical and creative in improving processes and organizations. This includes presentations, communications and full-on training sessions. Education, done well, is more of a process of elicitation, drawing out understanding from the other person rather than talking at them. Leading in change is itself often a process of education, and may be done in many situations. An issue in change is that people often feel powerless. Education gives them the power to change. On the training front remember usually it’s going to be much cheaper to re-train than to recruit – help your people gain the skills they are going to need in the new organization.
There will be more on this in the coming weeks – each of these topics deserves more time and explanation and there are other things to do which we will explore.