All leaders are in the change management business. Whenever you seek to improve things you bring about change. Human beings are often accused of being change resistant, but I refute this. Human beings took over the world and survived the ice age. How could they do this if they were change resistant? We live happily from the poles to the equator. How many other animals can do this?
I believe that many change management undertakings fail because we fight with people’s brains. One of the clearest lessons we have learnt about change from recent neuroscience findings is that change is learning. People learn best by doing, yet many change management efforts treat people as passive receptacles of new ways of doing things.
In my change management masterclass, I suggest change management methods based on these recent neuroscience findings, but I also emphasise the impact of engagement. The modern definition of engagement is a positive, energetic and committed mental state where people are immersed in their work. The simple truth is that a workforce low in engagement is intrinsically change resistant and will rapidly become “change fatigued”.
Leadership is crucial. To create a change ready workforce leaders need to:
- Empower people as much as possible. “Top down” means less change ready.
- Take an optimistic, positive and future focussed perspective. Pessimism and cynicism kill openness to new ideas.
- Support and value people so that they feel confident and safe enough to change.
- Create clarity about acceptable and unacceptable performance and behaviours so people “know where the goalposts are”.
The person’s job and the behaviours of their colleagues are also big drivers of an employee’s level of engagement, but these are heavily impacted by leadership. Are your leaders leading for effective change? Learn more about SACS 360 degree feedback tool for measuring this.