Welcome to the August 2003 edition of the Lieberman Learning Letter, published by Simma Lieberman Associates. This is the second installment of the CHANGE! series, focused on how to effectively deal with change in your organization.
Part 2 of CHANGE! is jam-packed with highly effective tips and strategies for leaders and individuals to prepare for change. Read on!
This newsletter includes information from Simma’s many workshops, seminars, and keynote speeches. Simma shares this useful information free of charge with colleagues and clients to promote their continued learning and growth.
The 6 Questions All Leaders Should Ask Themselves about Change
Who are you leading? (a board of directors, managers, general employees, etc.) The dynamics of your group will impact what message you deliver and how you deliver it.
How have these people reacted to change in the past? Think about changes that are both small and big. Past change is a powerful indicator for future reactions and ultimately the success of future changes. Think back, identify problems, concerns, and needs, and plan to address them again with future changes.
Have they been resistant or open to new ideas? Make a list, if possible, and identify what changes people were open to and what they resisted. Can you identify a pattern? Are people more open to cyclical changes (reoccurring ones, like seasonal or budget changes) than structural changes (permanent changes, like downsizing)?
Have they been fearful or secure with change? Even when a group seems secure of change, there may be an underlining fear that can impact the success of your change if left unaddressed. Try to pinpoint fears that surfaced in the past and plan to address them during the new change.
How will this change impact them positively or negatively? People are more likely to accept change when they both understand the change and can see the value of the change. Think about how the change will impact your group, and plan to face the possible negative results of the change. If left unspoken, negative impacts will create strong resistance to change.
Do you understand what will motivate your people and create buy-in for the change? Think in terms of their needs and concerns, and adapt your strategy for approaching change to address these motivating factors.
Asking yourself these questions sets the groundwork for successful change. If you are new in your position or don’t have the answers to these questions, find the people who do. You will effectively be rallying people for the changes ahead in the meantime and will gain powerful insight for how to approach change in your organization.
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The Top 10 Ways to Manage People through Change
Communicate your vision so that others will be inspired to join. Speak in terms of results and the steps to getting there. Paint the big picture before you hone in on the numerous changes the ideal big picture requires.
Learn to let go. Identify what is in your control to change and know how to let go of things you can’t control.
Identify energy vampires and people who are energy igniters. You’ll need a lot of oomph to lead a group through change. Energy is infectious, so surround yourself with energy and tap into its sources. Avoid the vampires and make time for the igniters.
Be able to inform others and communicate the change. Give relevant information at the right time in order to empower people and help them feel secure. Create newsletters of weekly updates to report progress. In the absence of information, rumors start.
Listen, listen, listen. Listen with your ears, eyes, mind and heart. Understand other people’s thoughts, feelings and emotions. Listen to people’s concerns without judging or making them wrong.
Respond. Different people react to change differently, based on their experiences and who they are. When you hear a concern, address it. When you sense a fear, speak to it. Respond in a helpful way to reactions to change by focusing on people’s needs and concerns.
Don’t make people wrong for their feelings. Acknowledge people’s feelings and make it safe to express them.
Nurture yourself and others during times of change. Change can carry an unconscious stress on your body. Don’t forget about it. Find outlets to give your mind and body a break. Find out what other people need to be nurtured. Don’t be afraid to ask about their needs.
Help people find the support they need (once a week support groups during lunch, employee assistance programs).
Be patient. Change takes time and can try your patience. Recognize it can take a long time for the dust of change to settle and be patient both with the process and the people who are affected by it. Your demonstrated patience will give security and confidence to those around you.