Although it is a well-worn cliche, the phrase the only thing constant is change is still true today as it was years ago when first coined. In fact, one could say that this is even truer in today’s disruptive times than it ever was before. There is no individual or company today who doesn’t go through gut wrenching change, some of it dictated by external circumstances, and some of it brought on from within. In the context of a company, the people who have it most difficult during such periods of change are the managers or the people who lead teams. They need to understand the changes and internalize them, then they need to explain these changes to the people in their team and get them completely on board, and they also need to provide status updates to their superiors. If you are a manager, there are some things you need to keep in mind and plan for when you have to navigate your team through a period of tumultuous change.
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Change for Change’s Sake
If you are the one initiating the transformation and change then you must avoid the temptation to change things around once a year just to keep everyone on their toes. If you do not have a valid reason, then there is no point fixing something which isn’t broken.
God Is In the Details
There are some managers who prefer to first get the ball rolling with only a high level plan, and then fine tune their plans along the way as and when they hit roadblocks. But that strategy works better if the team size is relatively small and it is easy to communicate and explain changes at regular intervals and get the team to change their work styles accordingly. When the team is larger, though, it is a much better idea to have a complete change management plan ready before initiating the change, in as much detail as possible.
What Is the Purpose?
A clear view is very necessary of what the successful implementation of the change will provide once completed. Unless you know where you want to reach, you won’t be able to walk in the correct direction. The plan made at the beginning should include a set of measurable outcomes that the change will provide.
An army might have a brilliant strategist as its commander-in-chief, but unless it has efficient generals who can actually implement the strategy on the battlefield, the army is bound to lose. As a leader, you need to have a few people in your team who will provide supplementary leadership for specific activities or for specific sub-teams.
Many leaders get so emotionally attached to their ideas for change that even if they are able to see that some of it is not working, they refuse to change it and rework their course. The leader must be reasonably flexible to be willing to cut his losses and exit when needed. For that to happen, a good leader would also have a Plan B for every aspect of his overall plan, so that if something doesn’t work out, he can move to the alternative plan.
Every member of the team must be very clear as to what is expected of him for the plan to succeed, and what results can be expected if he does his bit properly. This will allow the leader to hold people responsible for their contribution, and also understand the reason why some of the expected results are not showing.
Change for any team is often a painful and difficult process, and the above steps would help the manager to make the process easier for himself and for his team.