A leader must be the one to stand up and say this needs to change and this is how we are going to do it. They should lead the strategy, planning, development and implementation of change.
Why Change Is Needed
Change is vital to growth and expansion. It gives your company a competitive edge and gives your departments and reports a spark of energy. Without change it is impossible to grow. To grow one must improve. To improve one must change.
As an example let’s look at Jack Welsh. He took GE and turned it into one of the largest and most admired companies in the world. One of the key elements to his success was to drive change in the organization. He encouraged his colleagues to never stop thinking about the need for change. He advised his managers to make whatever changes were necessary to improve and to constantly re-examine and rewrite their agendas.
As a leader you must understand how important change is and how you can drive change. You must learn how to manage change so it is effective, positive and beneficial to your company, your departments and your people.
Change Is Normal and an Opportunity
Change is a normal part of business and can happen over a period of years or even hours. We must get everyone to understand that change is normal and it must happen. Change is necessary to grow your business. Change will happen with or without you. It is better for you to control the change, rather than have change forced on to you.
Change is also an opportunity for improvement. Great leaders are able to recognize when an opportunity for change comes and seize on it.
Let’s say your company has been using the same process for shipping for 10 years. With the cost of fuel at all time highs so are shipping costs. This is not a time to accept the status-quo. This is an opportunity for change that can improve your shipping department and reduce costs.
Changes are usually made to improve how something is done. This requires you to research the change, look for all possible solutions and alternatives and develop a plan for change. Change without a plan is often mistaken for innovation. Innovation is part of change, but alone it is not change. Change without a plan is like a ship heading into a fog bank. You do not know what is out there.
Leaders Must Drive Change
Leaders must be the driving force behind change. Leaders coordinate the development of the improvements and help put them in place. Leaders must be the ones who recognize change is on the way and prepare their people for it. Leaders must see change as a competitive advantage and leverage it for maximum effect.
Keys to Driving Change
- Recognize the need for or opportunity for change and act on it.
- Stand up and call for change. Explain why it is needed and what the results will be with and without the change.
- Be engaged in the strategy, planning, development and implementation of the change.
- People are the biggest roadblock to change. For a change to be effective the people must know why there is a need for change, what it means to them and why it is good for them.
- Change does not have to involve expense. The best changes are improving the way something is done. A change in a process or how a service is delivered only requires one to examine the steps in the process and improve them.
- Change is about improvement. To work smarter not harder, deliver a better product, raise customer satisfaction or gain an edge over the competition.
- Change should be positive.
- Change is not a quick fix.
- Change is best made with small incremental steps, not complete overhauls.
Change implemented in this manner is the most effective and the least likely to cause disruption to the business or the services it provides. Change should improve the people, products, services or other support structures of your company.
The management landscape is littered with the remains of powerful change technologies, approaches and programs that have faltered and then fizzled, only to be replaced by the next Holy Grail. Change is not hard. It does not always require new training or new technology.
What change does require is leaders who embrace it. Almost always it is leadership that produces change. Leaders cannot sit upon their throne and delegate change to the minions. They must be down in the trenches, working with the people to establish a real and effective change.
Leaders Help People Change
Most people are resistant to change. Change is new and can be intimidating. People have a whole bag of fears on why they are resistant to change. They are comfortable with the way things are and want to keep it that way.
Leaders who have stumbled in their attempts to drive change in their organizations may have failed to understand the dynamics of workplace behavior and why employees tend to dig in their heels. Since change is inevitable, leaders must help their reports adapt to change. They should ease their fears and reassure them that change is a good thing.
This is best done by not springing changes on people. Change should be discussed ahead of time if at all possible. Let people know it is coming and why it is needed. Give them time to accept it. Have meetings and explain the change. If training is needed get them the training well before the change so they can develop the skills needed.
Change is part of life and part of the business world. Change is needed for a company to grow and become better at what they do. Change can come at any time or can be gradually phased in.
Change must be well planned, tested and everyone involved notified of the change. Change without a plan will not be as effective. Do not change for the sake of changing. Change should show a real impact in an area.
Leaders must drive change within their company, their department and their team. Change will come whether you want it to or not. You had best be in front of the change instead of being rolled over by it. It shows you are ahead of the game and not playing catch up to the competition.
Leadership requires that you help your people change. You must explain to them what the change is, why it is happening, and how they and the company will benefit from it. Put their fears to rest by helping them through the change. Provide training well in advance if it is needed. The better you prepare your people for change, the more likely the change will be effective.
Change is good. Change is growth and expansion. Change is an opportunity. Change is getting ahead of your competitors. Change is about improvement. Properly done leaders can use change to transform their departments and their company.