There is no silver bullet or quick fixes to organizational change, but as you stare down the scary word of “change,” there are a couple key ingredients that make the whole process more palpable, successful, and perhaps even fun.
First, you want to ask yourself is the change you are considering worth it? The no-change decision is an act unto itself and every act requires you to pay a price organizationally. Not every change or varying strategy may serve your organization’s best interests. Will your change enhance processes, relationships, good will, time, energy, resources, and most of all deliver the results that you expect and desire?
The second question to ask is, “Is the change possible?” Take pause and carefully survey your landscape before you answer. There are those who may profess that anything is possible, but in the time and resource constraints you face is it possible and worth the price of time, commitment, and resources? Your very leadership will likely be at stake. Assuming the answers are ‘yes,’ here are some guidelines to keep in mind.
First, you must clearly communicate your vision of change. Even if you an authoritarian type of leader, you will want your leadership segments to have input to create a reasonable buy-in. Swift adaptation is often the order of the day, but more often than not slowing down the process is more critical to long-term success. You can’t affect positive change unless your entire leadership team buys in. Never shortcut the process of understanding, input, communication, and education. That will include time and meetings – and more time than you probably want to budget. This process must not only include leadership buy-in, but time for everyone else to be able to ask their questions, voice their concerns, and begin to adjust. Most businesses will also have to factor in suppliers, vendors, and customers as well.
Next you will want to avoid ‘perfection’ and choose ‘excellence’ and continuous improvement. Just as you stumbled while learning to walk, no one nor any organization does anything perfectly the first time so take perfection off the table. Otherwise you’ll drive everyone mad and doom your agenda. Again this will likely also include external groups such as suppliers, customers, and perhaps the community at large.
Intellectually you probably already realize that change is awkward so you might as well feel it too. By acknowledging this, you demonstrate that you are “real” and people respect that. Such awkwardness is always inherent in change so anticipate the discomforts and build in the delays and difficulties into your timelines and budgets. Let your leadership know what’s coming and then remind them that stress, uncertainty, and upheaval are part of the game, but a temporary one at that. As a leader, your offering confident reassurance and comfort is part of your responsibility – always keeping your focus on your target.
The other main part of your responsibility is to “walk the talk.” Be the change you want. Everyone is always watching the leader’s every move all of the time. You simply must commit to your own personal growth and change if you are hope to be successful with your change initiative. This may include hiring a personal coach or consultant to assist you – often a sage move.
Remember that evolution is easier than revolution so whenever possible you might reposition your ambitions to refinements. Revolutionary changes essentially turn the place upside down and may even be highly suggestive of requiring totally new and different leaders. And if the organizational engine is beyond repair, maybe that is just what is needed, but go in with your eyes open, your sights high, and your resolve determined and patient; you will greatly improve your chances of success!