Leadership + Management | By Tom Murphy,

How to Deal With Organizational Change

They say the only constant is change. And like most clever sayings, this one is also very true.

Today’s pace of change is faster than it’s ever been before. But here’s the kicker. It’s also the slowest it will ever be again. Just think about that for a second.

When it comes to change, you have three basic choices

  1. Bury your head (and the rest of your body) in the sand
  2. Wait for change to find you and then react
  3. Get out in front change and take control

We all know people and companies who have gone with option one— and how well that went.

And yet many individuals and organizations are all too willing to ignore impending change, or to embrace a strategy that is purely reactionary.

If you run a business, this isn’t going to help you achieve your goals. Or even survive.

Taking control

If you want to make change work for you, you’ll not only need to tune in to what’s happening around you, you’ll need to adjust your thinking, processes and vision to match. Ultimately, you’ll have to decide what your new future looks like and commit to making it a reality.

Based on what’s happening now, what critical elements will need to be in place to set you up for success? Ultimately, you want to be able to ride the waves of change instead of helplessly watching them roll in and hoping they will spare you.

To make effective changes in your business, you’ll need to evaluate the following:

  • Company profitability
  • Organizational growth
  • Your core value proposition
  • Your marketing and sales process
  • The skills and behaviors on the team
  • What resources you need to be successful
  • And perhaps many other elements of your organization

The key is here is that you and your entire team will need to understand how you must evolve in order to remain relevant and viable.

The vision is just the beginning

Simply defining your future isn’t going to cut it. In addition to coming up with your vision, you will need to follow up by:

  • Communicating – Take the time to explain to the team and why change is necessary.
  • Planning – Establish and share a formal strategy for how you will move from where you are today to where you want to be tomorrow
  • Making it happen – Make sure everyone understands not just how they will be impacted, but also how they will be expected to contribute to the execution of the plan.
  • Evaluating and adjusting – Report back to the team on all of the above. Track your progress and results on a regular basis and make corrections as needed.

Way too often when a change initiative is introduced, the team simply grins, rolls their eyes, knowing nothing ever really changes.

And while it’s tempting to blame it on bad attitudes, the truth is that often it’s their leaders who have trained them to react this way. By not committing to past initiatives, and by sidestepping the difficult work and decisions, and follow through that should have happened as a result.

Get committed

Take the time to make sure both your leadership and team understand where the organization is going, why you’re going there, how you will get there, and how they will be impacted and expected to contribute.

Taking this critical step will allow people to feel excited instead of scared, empowered instead of frustrated, and knowledgeable instead of in the dark. When your team understands how they fit into the bigger picture, they will be much more willing to stop fighting your change initiatives and start fighting with you to put them in place.

Yes, it may be difficult. But that’s what makes it so rewarding when you succeed.

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