5 Steps to Embrace Change

recently gave a keynote to a group of senior leaders at a global construction company. Their theme was, “Leadership In Times of Transition, ” and my piece was to motivate them to embrace change during times of transition. I felt a bit overwhelmed. I am a good motivator, but how do I motivate a group of people who are in an industry (construction) that has taken a pounding since the bottom fell out in 2007, and there’s still no end in sight – sort of like trying to motivate a group of teenagers to embrace shuffle board for a leisure activity.
Always up for a challenge, I started by asking the group, “How many of you think change is good to stay vibrant and competitive as a company?” Of course, all hands went in the air – probably for one of two reasons:
1) the boss was in the room and he’s paying a professional mouth (mine) to run his soup-cooler for an hour on embracing change so you better raise your hand OR
2) you actually concur with the question.
With all hands raised, my second question was, “How many of you embrace change when you are PERSONALLY “Voluntold” to change your ways of thinking / operating / doing in order to stay vibrant and competitive as a company?”
All hands dropped. Ahhh-haaa!! Isn’t that interesting?
We all feel change is necessary in order to stay vibrant and competitive BUT when we are told personally voluntold to change our ways, we don’t like it!!!
Bottom line: there is a primal instinct in all humans to push back when change is pushed upon them. When a company feels change is necessary, leadership must be aware of this natural instinct to “push back.” A few thoughts to help others embrace change – start with yourself.
1) Include employee groups/committees to help create the process. Buy-in is critical and greatly reduces push-back.
2) Be sure the change you are asking has integrity and balance throughout the system. Who / What / Where is benefiting?
3) Communicate-Communicate-Communicate often.
Preach the need and sell the change!
4) At all levels Set Expectations – Monitor Performance through value based leadership!!
5) Have fun – smile often – ATTITUDE!! Even if you have to fake it wink