Personal change can be tough. Leading it in organisations is often a huge struggle. In many ways this should not be a surprise. Yet how often do you see change that delivers all of the expected benefits? If the research is to be believable no more than 30% of the time.
On the other hand does it really need to be as much of a struggle as it seems to be? After all it is usually skilled or experienced staff with a track record taking the lead. They understand the people, the culture, the industry, etc. Chances are they have the skills.
Now let’s be honest. It is never going to be a walk in the park. By the same token there are some simple things that in my experience can make it less of a struggle.
So what are they?
Be clear on why you need to make change
Obvious? Yes. Common practice? No. Unless you know why change is needed and can communicate the reasons in ways that people closest to the point of service delivery can relate to, you will always struggle.
Don’t assume you have all the solutions
Seniority brings experience, authority and accountability. On the other hand it does not necessarily mean that you have depth of insight.
Leaders ego or need to have all the answers can often end up being a barrier to change, especially when they think they have the best and indeed all the solutions.
Get key people involved
Look at any organisation and any team and you will see people who have the respect and trust of others.
Usually they are not the most senior. What they do have is the drive and a way of relating to their peers that someone more senior will always struggle with.
Expect a bumpy ride
Change is rarely an A to B straight line, trouble free process. There will be setbacks. There will be highs.
There will be low points.
Accept that this is just part and parcel of the process of change and try to go with the flow as much as you can.
Encourage and support innovation and balanced risk taking
The environment you create as a leader makes a big difference. If you operate in a culture of blame, people will never ever step up and take a chance.
Any time someone tries to achieve something there is feedback. You can always move forward based on that feedback.
Celebrate progress as well as achievements
I’m sure we all have had situations where people have put in a huge amount of personal effort and commitment.
Because the ideal outcome was not achieved, it is overlooked or forgotten about.
This does nothing in terms of motivating and inspiring people and is more likely to result in them disengaging in the future.
While change is always going to present challenges, it is often the small adjustments in the style and approach leaders take that yields the biggest gains.
Duncan Brodie of Goals and Achievements works with the NHS in the areas of leadership, change and improvement.