Change leadership can be hard, but truly transformational change leadership can be one of the most daunting, difficult challenges any leader can face. I am not talking about the implementation of a small human resources program or a short-term project to improve operational efficiency. I am talking about disruptive change which requires a true transformation in the way business is conducted and a long-lasting cultural shift. This type of change may be forced on an organization in order to remain competitive, or it may be chosen by high-level leaders to take advantage of emerging trends or opportunities to redirect business focus for long-term growth.
It may be rare for leaders, managers, and employees to experience this type of change because the time spent with a single organization may not fit within the timeline of transformational change. With the rapid movement of employees between companies, personnel may not remain in place long enough to go through these types of change initiatives. So this can leave a knowledge and experience gap for many and when they do come face to face with transformational change they may not know how to successfully navigate the process. Here are some tips to help leaders, managers, supervisors, and line employees start the transformational change process:
1. Identify an opportunity that is in the long-term interest of the company: Change-for-change sake can be detrimental to long-term transformational efforts. When the change is not in the best interest of the organization employees may not see the benefit and may not buy into the process. Without employee support change efforts are more likely to fail.
2. Identify your “A” Players: A Players are the ones who have technical skills, a high level of operational expertise and experience, and have the ability to not only get along with others, but to motivate and inspire people. The A Players will be the ones who lead the change at the lower levels, the ones who motivate the troops, and the ones who inspire action. They will be some of your biggest assets throughout the change process.
3. Engage your employees and build committees: Without employee involvement lasting, truly transformational change will be extremely difficult and may be more likely to fail than if employees are involved throughout the process. By empowering employees and putting them in charge of committees to help drive the change and execute plans, leaders not only distribute the work, but also can harness the power of collective thought and action.
4. Speak multiple “languages”: Oftentimes divisions and departments within organizations have their own unique subcultures. These subcultures can be a very powerful force if they are nurtured and directed towards the efforts of change leaders. Getting to know the subcultures, their individual “languages”, and the people that make them what they are leaders have an opportunity to harness a powerful force to help implement change efforts.
5. Cultivate diversity of thought: Groupthink can be a very powerful force and can work for or against change efforts. Either way, when groups of people think in only one manner there may be missed opportunities for improvement. A key task for change leaders and change agents is to identify the A Players from multiple departments and backgrounds so that when plans are laid out and decisions are made, the collective voice will have checks and balances, consent and dissent, and multiple minds trying to solve the problem. The leaders’ jobs also include working towards consensus.
These are just a few thoughts on how to approach deep, long-lasting transformational change efforts. For more information on how to approach this process it may help to find an individual or organization that has experienced this type of transformation. It is one thing to read about it, and it is another thing to listen to a story from someone who has been through major transformational change. I was fortunate enough to be part of a major transformational change effort in the Marine Corps, which included sweeping aviation technology changes and significant cultural changes as well. This change made us better warfighters and I would like to share this story with you. At V-Speed, LLC we have designed an executive and senior-leadership seminar/webinar on transformational change, based on experience and immersion in the process. We would love to share our story with you. Please take a look at our Executive and Senior Leadership Seminar on Transformational Change and then contact us to learn more about how we may be able to help you navigate through the turbulence associated with disruptive change leadership.
Thanks, and have a great and safe week!