So now we’ve identified what you want to change, come up with a high-level plan, identified your playing field, and committed yourself to the benefits, gotten the team on board, revised your plan, and you are now ready to roll.
If you haven’t set dates to your plan, now is the time to do so. You need to add in contingencies where you can, but you have to set real dates or your change may never materialize. You need to hold yourself accountable for maintaining this goal. If you don’t have to report to someone, then keep your dates to yourself. Things are easier for me if I set personal goals and not hold the entire team accountable for something that is actually my job as the change management planner.
If you do need to spin this up, this is the time to get the go-ahead. You’re in the best position now because the concept is fresh, and you have the plan in mind to form cohesive arguments and outline the benefits. I find it works best if you use the language of the person you’re talking to. If its finance, talk about money saved. If it’s marketing, talk about KPIs. I also try to tie everything back into business strategy and branding. After all, you’ve put in a lot of work and this isn’t just a frivolous idea. And if you need to revise your plan again because of things out of your control, so be it.
Understanding that your plan isn’t going to work out of the gate is the only way you’ll see this through. No plan survives meeting with the enemy. You’ve already tested out your first run at it with your team so be prepared to be open-minded about the continued need to refine… and that takes commitment. Be proactive as much as possible when you see issues that may need a little extra planning. Honestly, already having a culture of change at the office is the easiest way to do this, but that’s got to be top-down and unless you’re the boss, you’ve got to stick to your guns. Don’t falter when people poke holes in it and remember, negativity is a cycle to be broken and called out. Don’t let passive-aggressive behaviors cloud your vision. Be prepared to stick to your guns.
Once you have your plan, execute it. Give yourself a mental push here and take that first step. You should have buy-in from the team, your goals, and everything you need to make things happen. Remember that personal habits are the number 1 thing that gets in the way. Sometimes, we simply forget where we place our car keys and this is no different. You’re going to need to be flexible and adjust the plan as the roadblocks come in. Add tasks to remind yourself to follow up and be diligent every day.
Call out the successes and work with people to overcome the hurdles. If you can show that the change is benefitting everyone and make it personal, you’ll be on your way. You have to be the cheerleader, celebrating successes when they happen and helping overcome failures.
If your team implements the change without a hitch, good for them and bad for you. In my case, it means that everything was probably fine but I’ve been in their way. This change was so obvious to everyone and I wasn’t listening to them when they needed it. For most people, that’s not going to be the case. Failing means that your team is trying to change their behavior. It means there are situations no one foresaw, because you’re not all knowing, and you just adjust. Failing is positive because it is a part of change, and that means your plan is working.
Now, there is also just not failing because people are ignoring you and not changing. That means you didn’t sell your plan or you didn’t think the roadblocks were going to be so dang big. You’ll need to revise the plan and probably do another meeting in which you admit the problems and ask for help with the solution. Again, make it personal. And if you have a single person on your team who just can’t seem to be bothered yet everyone else around them is trying, it’s time for a performance improvement plan. You need consensus for a workflow to happen and unless you’re willing to do be the conduit for all of their interactions, you need to nip this behavior in the bud.
Maintaining this change may be easy but honestly, we find that once we find one thing that needs fixing, we always find more. Every process, workflow, or communication can be improved. By continually making your business better, you create a feedback loop of positivity and can actually make your team agents of change themselves.