13 Nov Leading Your People Through Change
It’s been a year of adapting for you and your teams. We’ve experienced unimaginable disruption to operations and indeed our lives which has called on everyone to be more flexible as they adapt new ways of working. It’s also pushed many to take their digital performance management and engagement strategies to the next level. Leading your people through this kind of change is no easy task.
At this stage of 2021, many businesses are working on their long term action plans to new ways of working in these areas. Regardless of the road you choose, it’s going to mean change for your people. In times of transition or adjustment to the status quo, your people will look to you to lead. When they do, what will they see? You need to know the answer to this because they will be watching.
When aiming for great leadership, actions speak a lot louder than words. This is especially the case when it comes to leading your people through change such as rolling out a new process. Communication is still important; they need to know what’s happening. But there are certain behaviours your team must see during a transition to new ways of working and beyond for success.
1. Joined-Up Thinking
Your people are the ones keeping the company wheels in motion daily. And it’s those on the ground who have the most significant insight on how to improve operations. Your team needs to see joined-up thinking when it comes to the rollout of a new system. This means consultation, involving them in the process and listening to what they have to say.
They should know about the benefits and that it has been signed off at a departmental level too. It must be crystal clear that it’s agreed across the company as the best way forward to everyone. Otherwise, you’ll never get your people on board. However, it’s up to you as their manager to lead your people through this process of inclusion and implementation.
This goes for every person in your organisation; individuals and teams at all levels. Everyone needs to hold themselves and others accountable for their involvement in a new process. Be mindful of this when selecting a system, as you can opt for one that supports this. For example, with our product, it’s clear what stage a goal is at, who is responsible for moving it forward and how individual/team goals align to the business strategy.
Accountability also applies to company values. Especially during times of change, or introducing a new way of working, holding the company values is of great significance. Your team needs to see them reflected in your actions. It shows the company is authentic and is who they say they are. This builds trust, gains buy-in and supports a sense of community.
Transparency is critical when leading your people through change. They will be watching your actions and behaviours for clues on this; whether consciously doing so or not. They are always taking it in and making assessments. The good news is, you can ensure their results are positive ones by creating a culture of transparency.
For example, one action we have seen works well with our product is when the senior team publicly shares the entire company strategy, goals and milestones before inviting others into the platform. This makes people feel more included, and less like decisions are being made that impact them without consultation.
It also ensures there is no ambiguity regarding aims and objectives showing everyone is on the same page. This makes the process transparent which improves relationships, engagement, productivity and gives people purpose.
Introducing new digital tools, optimising existing processes for continuous improvement and adapting to new ways of working is a journey rather than an overnight success. Acknowledge this early on but also encourage it in your teams too. This helps with managing expectations on both ends.
A way to achieve this is by breaking down the implementation of a new process into priorities and phases. Make sure these are aligned with the company as well as what will work best for your teams. For example, when rolling out our product to a new partner, we listen to their priorities and solve their core issues with the appropriate features. It’s not a case of jumping in at the deep end but start with the most relevant features to alleviate their concerns and do this phase by phase to ensure optimum adoption.
People will make mistakes, changes will need to be made, but also your team will get on board, and things will move forward. Whether acknowledging the contribution of your people in making this process happen and successfully adapting to change or the difficulties some might be having, be sure to do it. It shows everyone that you value and respect them as well as their efforts. It also makes people much more willing to go along with you on this journey.
Leading your people through change means transition and transition means upheaval. Even if the developments are in everyone’s best interest, it takes people out of their routine and calls on them to learn and adapt. Change is not without its challenges, and its impact should not be overlooked or underestimated. Your people will be extra sensitive during this time, especially to your behaviour; how you act, react or respond. That’s why you must show support in your actions.
One way of doing this is by being accessible. We suggest holding regular progress meetings or walk-in clinics where people can discuss their concerns, ask questions and give feedback. You need these sessions as much as your people do for the insight they will provide on how best to help them and support the new operation.
There will be problems. Roadblocks will emerge, and other unexpected challenges won’t be far after that, but such is the nature of change and implementing any new process. It’s a long term commitment to overall improvement, and as you lead your people through change they will look to you for guidance throughout it. It’s not that words don’t matter, they do, but they carry little credence if you aren’t following them with the desired actions.
The best way in our experience to avoid or indeed lessen the impact of any potential pitfalls is by ensuring consistency and cohesiveness in your people and process. This starts with your actions as a leader and ensures no matter how rocky the road, it will be much easier to navigate.
At Frankli, we’re on a mission to help businesses optimise their performance management process. We bring simplicity and transparency to your people’s experience through goal-setting, real-time feedback, 1:1s, pulse surveys and review cycles. Leading your people through this kind of change is no easy task, if you’d like to know how we support you, get in touch with our team today.