Global Leadership Speaker and Premier Work-Life Balance Speaker
Speaking Information at (727) 467-0202 or e-mail

Creating change without creating havoc

There is a right way to make change. There is a wrong way to make change. Any beginning leadership book will tell you that. It will tell you about getting input from others so that you create the buy-in that will make you successful. It will tell you how to stage change so things are not too painfully drastic. It will tell you how to communicate your vision, and all of the basics.

Just remember one thing. You are dealing with human beings.

Your people are not FTEs on an organizational chart. They are human beings with feelings, who want to feel secure, needed and valued. They have families. They have stresses at home. They have health concerns, financial worries and a full menu of personal insecurities. They may work with you because they love their work, or because they need the paycheck, or both. But, they are counting on you.

Whatever vision you have, remember their feelings. We can try to teach everyone to love change because change is the one certainty in corporate life these days, but guess what? There are legions of people who will never love change. It’s not in them. They feel safe when things are predictable and they know the territory. They don’t want to have to prove themselves over and over again. They may have seen dozens of change agents or countless change plans come down from above. They have worked for good managers and bad managers, and may take pride in the fact that they’ve outlasted the worst of them.

They may not be easy to manage or lead, but remember, they are human beings. The universe begins and ends with them. They see everything through their own prism, which is not your prism. They don’t automatically appreciate your ideas or plans. They may be negative or cynical because they are afraid.

As a leader, you sometimes have to assume the role of parent – whether you think that is your job or not. “Because I said so” is the worst explanation for change, so take care to articulate the reasoning for your decisions. Sometimes, all you need to do is say, “Here is where we are, here is where we need to be, this is how we can get here and this is how you are critical to our success.”

If you are expecting more from people, show them what’s in it for them. It’s not enough to say, “Do this and you get to keep your job.” Instill a little pride in them for their company and show how they are key to making it succeed.

Change is unsettling. There is a little bit of hand-holding that has to go on just because of the insecure nature of people, and even if you think it is unnecessary, it really is your job to go to your people and lead them – not order them. That means finding ways to get them to follow you. You may be able to order your people to do certain tasks or job, but followership means they pitch in and propel the success of your vision.

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