How to create excitement around change
Enthusiasm is the key to good change management. Here are our top tips for creating just that.
Change is, and has always been, central to humanity and life on earth. As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus allegedly said, the only constant in life is change. In today’s modern, global society, this is undeniably true. All organisations face continuous demands for adaptation in order to stay relevant and viable. Organisational cultures are revised, services are digitised, and working methods and processes are adjusted.
Our strengths come to the fore when change is to be implemented. At this time, the leadership has likely been working on a new strategy for several months, maybe even years. They have established the “why” and “how” of the change, they are motivated, and are likely already changed themselves. A classic big mistake that often happens is that the management forgets the perspective of the rest of the employees.
Imagine a squad of 12 soldiers. They walk one after the other on a path in the woods. The distance between the front and rear soldiers is significant. Suddenly, the front soldiers discover danger, and immediately begin preparations. The soldiers at the rear have no idea. When the rear soldiers reach the danger point, it’s only moments before trouble breaks loose. For the front soldiers, it was obvious what would happen, while the rear troops have not been given the same preparation time. Nevertheless, they are expected to be ready.
When we enter a change process, the need for change may feel long overdue to the leadership. Our job is to enable the rear soldiers to change, often in a short time. We use the following change formula as a rule of thumb:
N x D x F > R
Always consider resistance
R is for resistance. Although change is claimed to be the very nature of life, we all have an equally natural resistance to change. Within organisations, this resistance can lie dormant like a sleeping bear, until it’s woken by the slightest thing and shows its teeth. The resistance can also show up as passive aggression, like whispering in the corners, or the attitude “if I sit completely still, then maybe it’ll go away on its own”. Resistance is the negative factor of the equation, and it will be present, in one form or another. The key to creating excitement that can counter this resistance lies in the following three positive factors.
Communicate why change is needed
N is for necessity. People who are going to be part of a change need to understand why. A current example is the major educational change project that world governments are running in the face of the COVID-19 crisis. To reliably follow the highly disruptive infection control measures, the population needs to understand why it is so important. The daily press conferences around the world say a lot about how vital this point is.
Describe a desirable vision for the employees
D is for desire. Desiring something is a matter of the heart. Communicating the vision for change will help the individual to see themselves in the new everyday life. To achieve this, the change must be in line with the individual’s values. Everyone who is to take part in the change project should also be invited to participate as co-creators in their own change process.
That said, the collective also plays a role. As change leaders, we must be responsive to the organisational culture – the organisation’s personality if you will. As an employee of the Tax Administration astutely said when we helped them with one of Norway’s largest reorganisation processes: “We need to remember that enthusiasm with us is not the same as enthusiasm with Choice Hotels.” (Choice Hotels is known for having a leader whose enthusiasm is through the roof.)
F is for the first step. This point determines whether theory becomes practice – whether it leads to actual change. We have spoken to people’s heads and hearts. They see that something needs to change and they want to be part of the change, but what are they going to do? How can they contribute? If the individual is not allowed to take part in the change, it will feel irrelevant. Conversely, it will be motivating for most people to be included in the process of developing the right first steps.
N x D x F > R = ENTHUSIASM
Listen to your employees and the organisation in the change process
Our thinking model plays on collaboration. The front soldiers must provide the rear soldiers with the information they need to be able to prepare, envision and welcome the change. At Task, we actively use insight to map values, needs and resistance – so that we can tailor the process to the individual. Contact Lasse Hamre to discuss what it might look like for you.