The world around us is constantly changing. The seasons, technology, our age; they all change. Typically, people have one of two reactions to change: excitement or resistance. Some people thrive on it and welcome change. Others see change coming, drag their feet and resist it; they prefer to keep the status quo. Why is this?
The first reason people resist change is that they don’t understand the importance of the change. Providing background info on the current problem and sharing the anticipated benefits should help put people a little more at ease. Once they see the big picture, it will be easier to get on board, accept and support the change. Another reason people resist change is due to fear of the unknown. They fear not being able to learn the new skill and have doubts about their ability to be successful. A leader should acknowledge the feelings and share that we’re all in the same boat, that training will be provided, and assistance will be available throughout the learning process. A third reason people resist change is due to a disruption in their routine. Many people structure their day in a way that works best for them. When a change happens, it may cause the individual to modify or adjust their routine. It may require thinking differently, temporarily slowing down or taking extra time to complete a task. Employees may need extra support until a new routine is established.
As a leader, there are roles you can play to help your team adjust during seasons of change. The first role I’d suggest is vision caster. You need to paint the picture of the envisioned future state helping your team see the value in the change. Listener is the next role to play. As a listener, you will help individuals feel heard, deal with the disruptions, validate their feelings. A third role is that of recruiter. You need to engage and motivate your team. Momentum can be lost over time if you aren’t keeping a pulse on your effort and your people’s response to the effort. The final role of coaching plays into this as well and will help your team stay the course, anticipate and look forward to how things will be once the change has happened.
At Interstates, we have a mindset of continuous improvement. We know change is inevitable. We also know it isn’t easy and requires attention and effort. As a leader, how can you listen, support and lead through change?
Doug Post, Interstates Engineering President