Understanding the context of upcoming changes is key. Whether your organisation is shut down completely or operating differently, managing a smooth transition out of crisis mode means being aware of the new world we’re moving into.
Become aware of all the people you're bringing with you as you transition your organisation into a future vision post-crisis. Both your staff and customers have been affected, and you need to transition them into new services in a way that feels full of integrity and at a pace they can cope with.
If you've got staff who have been on the frontline or badly affected by this crisis, then asking them to cope with short, sharp change is a difficult task.
You need to take people on a journey of understanding to help them feel ready for more change.
Sense-checking has to continue throughout implementation too. Keep asking: Has something changed? Have I brought my people with me?
Everybody knows we have to move from a crisis state into something else.
As a leader, you need to make everyone - staff, customers, and/or other stakeholders - aware of why you’re choosing the direction of change you are.
This is where the ability to talk about the ‘Big Why’ comes in.
You've made a choice, but why? Take people on that journey of understanding.
Go in some detail what you're doing and why it’s going to matter to them. Talk about the change you're making from their point of view.
I advise complete transparency about what's going to come and the steps you’re going to take from where you are in lockdown, to whatever your new normal will look like.
No change goes from start to finish successfully; there are always wrinkles. The key to bringing everyone with you is to be super transparent about what is and isn’t going right.
One thing that has been great to see throughout this crisis is how leaders have utilised the skills and capacities in their teams to solve problems. As I said in my last blog, this collaborative co-creation model is the future.
If you want to manage the upcoming changes successfully, get your best brains in on the process of change for maximum results. Ask: Where are we going and how are we going to get there?
People feel positively engaged and science proves that the answer you’ll get is better than any you’ll get alone.
But it's not enough to co-create with a couple of people; you have to share and engage much more widely too.
3 steps to effective co-creation and engagement:
These steps are critical, yet most only do step one. But because people are so invested in the companies they work for being able to survive so that they can survive - they’ll be really honest. If they think you are gambling their future on something that isn't going to work, they will tell you why - and that’s gold.
More than anything, this is a moment where you can rely on people being honest with you, so listen and be open.
Leaders have to support their people to work in a new way.
It’s no longer acceptable (never has been) to say “I need people with a different skill-set so let’s sack the existing workforce and employ new people with different skills”.
That’s not OK.
Supporting your people to thrive in the new normal isn't just about new tech or process training; it’s about providing your people with knowledge, understanding, skills and attitudes that will enable them to be successful.
It's obvious that knowledge and understanding are different.
It's not enough to tell people something and assume they understand - you have to give them the opportunity to test their knowledge.
Then support your people to implement their new understanding.
None of these aspects are of any value unless you teach them the attitudes they need in order to be successful.
If you’re going to radically change the way people work, it’s not enough to only give them knowledge or skills. You have to empower them with the understanding and attitudes to enable them to be successful.
Before this crisis, the majority of change management stopped long before the stage when people felt ownership.
As you move forward out of this crisis, your people need to feel like change is being done on their behalf, rather than to them.
They have to take ownership of the change.
This is where behavioural change happens: when people change the way they behave and interact with one another, you grow into a different organisation.
It’s about looking at the capabilities, opportunities and motivation of your staff to act in the way you want them to.
It’s about unblocking the manager who, with the best of intentions, is still stuck in how they worked six months ago.
It’s about providing an understanding of the context of the new situation so that attitudes begin to shift.
It’s about remembering that people don't come to work to do a bad job but need their leaders to understand that change fatigue is real - and help them shift out of it.
People need the transition out of this crisis to be managed in a way that makes them feel invested so that they can thrive; not another stress on their systems. We owe people a higher standard of leadership than we showed before this crisis.
Need help leading your organisation’s transition into the new normal? Send me a DM and let’s co-create a solution together.
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