Wednesday, March 21, 2012

5 Elements of Successful Change

5 Elements of ChangeMany times change is accompanied by feelings of confusion, anxiety, resistance and frustration. If you're leading a change movement and you see any of these attributes, make the time to reverse engineer the problem and fix it. Use the 5 Elements of Successful Change below to strengthen your cause.

If you aren't clear where you're going, you lack a clear vision. When you try to follow someone who doesn't have a clear vision you're bound to be confused. You don't want confused people on your team. Go back to your vision and make it simpler, preferably one sentence, clearer and easily repeatable.

By definition, change involves doing something different. It may be to stop doing something just as easily as it could mean to start doing something new. Both require brushing up on, or learning new skills. This often causes anxiety. That's because there is a fear related to the perceived skill level required. People don't like not knowing what they need to know. Worse, most don't easily acknowledge what they don't know. As a leader of the change you must help people identify and acquire the skills they needed to make the change happen.

"What's in it for me?" is a common question that is either implicitly or explicitly asked by people who are being told to change. Yes, there are good spirits and altruistically motivated people, but everyone needs an incentive to take action. Sometimes it's based on fear and hate, sometimes it's love and devotion. A change without an incentive is going to meet resistance. Eliminate the resistance by increasing the incentive for the change.

In my opinion there is nothing more frustratingly stupid then the stereotypical, "You need to do more with less" command some people make. Resources are often time, treasure or talent. An effective leader gathers resources and deploys them where they make sense. Excellent leaders of change, focus on talent and make the time to create confidence, foster ingenuity and build a unifying esprit de corps that finds resources where the lazy leader never bothers to look.

Action Plan
Wishing is a beautiful thing, but wishing for successful change does not bring it about. It takes a disciplined plan of action to move forward and measure ongoing progress. Teams without an action plan move, but it's generally in circles and with whim. Whim does not ensure lasting change.

Set a clear vision, acquire the necessary skills, offer the appropriate incentive, gather the necessary resources and act on your plan and you will be better equipped to move forward with any change.

Next time: Managing unexpected and sudden change.

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