You’ve been part of a team that had members leave and new members added, right? Did this happen through attrition, planned roll offs, retirements, eeek-layoffs, mergers, acquisitions, growth, and what else?
Was it disruptive, maybe even painful?
Regardless of the answers to these questions, team member changes are disruptive at some level.
What about other changes like leadership, coaches, sponsors, location, logos, mission, etc…
And again, regardless of what changes you have encountered, they are all disruptive at some level. And we aren’t even talking about whether the change is ultimately good or bad for the team.
The problem with disruption is that productivity is impacted and then progress can grind to a snail’s pace or even a halt.
Have you seen the change curve? The important thing we are trying to do in the change curve is to minimize the dip and width of productivity loss and bring everyone to a good performance space. Sometimes we do a good job, but sometimes it just really stinks.
OK. So we know change is inevitable. We know it is disruptive. But why?
I’ve heard it a million times, “Change is hard!” But you know what? Maybe some change can be hard, but I don't think change is the problem.
But before we get to all that, do you want to some tactics you can use to keep the momentum going?
OK, here we go:
1. Advanced Communications
Where possible, thoughtfully plan advanced communications. Notice I said “advanced”. If it’s sensitive in nature, work with a partner involved in the change to understand what absolutely can’t be communicated, and negotiate some options if possible. Don't keep people in the dark. You do know they still think and talk in the dark, right? But in the dark, guess who's controlling the narrative??? Not you.
2. It's More Than Communication
Please know that a fact-based communication alone won’t do the trick. Hmmm… darn it when you have to deal with people !
3. Engage The Team In Planning Ahead
Well before change happens, dedicate some work session time where the team will contribute to the conversation about how you should handle change if /when it comes. You will be surprised at what your team can come up with if you include them well before change happens. If you have organizational development resources in your company, invite them to the discussion after your team has had an opportunity to work through their own discussions.
4. Hit Change Head On
Address the change head on, early, and often. It is inevitable that some changes can poke emotional reactions that must be addressed. Know your team, know what makes them tick. When they know you take this seriously, they will trust you. And trust is KEY to a high performing team. Check out this blog post that references to a study Google did on finding the ideal team. You can also read Patrick Lencioni's The Ideal Team Player. It's a great read along with his other works.
5. Follow The Plan
Pull out the plan that the team developed in #3 above. Work through the plan. Again, when you do this it builds trust. It demonstrates how you value them and their ideas. But… be flexible. Things change and unexpected stuff happens. After you use the plan you can use the experience to refine that for the next time.
6. Focus The Team On A Quick Win
Identify a quick win goal that the team can focus on. It should be something they can sink their teeth into and accomplish in a relatively short period of time with a nice value output. Nothing beats good work that pays off!! Well… almost nothing. Getting the team focused on something valuable can pick the "grapes" off the grapevine and turn them into fine wine... OK, well... that analogy pointing to the corporate grapevine didn't work out on paper like it did in my head! But you know what I mean. Take their focus off the negative and put it on something positive.
Soooo, what have you have done to prepare your team in advance for inevitable changes? What have you done to help your team keep up their momentum through change? Join in on the conversation in our LinkedIn Group or our Facebook Group.
Now to get to my comment that I made right before I jumped into these 6 tactics, "I’ve heard it a million times, “Change is hard!” But you know what? Maybe some change can be hard, but I don't think change is the problem."
Putting it stronger, change is NOT the problem, it’s how we navigate people through the change, OR NOT, that's the big problem.
We all live with change on a daily basis, both in our personal and professional worlds. The rate and degree of change now is much faster and complex than 10 years ago. It seems like we buy new phones like they’re candy, regardless of the price… and I do mean PRICE. Heck, I remember the days of having my phone tethered to the wall. I thought my world had changed when we got a 25’ cable that would allow me to move about the room! Goodness I feel old… please tell me some of you remember this!
Most people don't want to get surprised at work unless you're showering them with some nice recognition or thank you chocolates!
You need to recognize that people need processing time. They need you to help them "journey" through the change.
Most people can get on board with change in a healthy way when you:
- Make them aware in advance,
- Keep them up to date,
- Give them "healthy venting" opportunities,
- Help them to understand the "why" of the change,
- Take time to value that people navigate in different ways and timetables,
- Provide clear activities to help them support the change in a positive way,
- Have built trust with them.
Let's bring it back to the title of this post, "Keeping Up The Momentum Through Member & Organizational Changes." Your key takeaways:
Plan change before change happens, and include the team in planning.
Journey your team through the change with listening, communications, and value based action.
Evaluate your journey.
Oh, I totally forgot the ribbon to tie on the package... celebrate your successes! You can use the wine from the grapevine !
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