Leading Through Change

Change is a necessary part of life. Why do we, as human beings, struggle with it so? This is a situation that organizations routinely face and one that can cause dramatic upheavals within its ranks.

Of course, organizations need to change and evolve over time, or they may face the certain fate of becoming obsolete or forgotten, and its leadership must be consistently pushing forward to stay relevant in today’s fast-paced world.


The struggle we mention in this scenario is one where the worker has a very difficult time believing, accepting, and agreeing to the change. It is up to the leader to help him or her with moving through that process as quickly as possible while supporting their emotions along the way. What we have discovered is that change itself is rarely the sticking point for most people. Rather it stems from communication inadequacies, failing to disclose reasons for the change, and a lack of being clear about expectations and the process that will be executed. When leaders are vague or don’t tie context into their messaging, fear sets in. It is imperative that we, as leaders, are crystal clear on what the team needs to know, why it matters, and what they need to do. Gapology gives us some guidelines to follow to help navigate the change and transition that follows.


Here are some things to consider from a Gapology Angle as you are leading through change.


Messaging

  • Tell them what they need to know. Close the Knowledge Gap. Make it crystal clear what is exactly changing, what role they will play in the change, what behavioral differences there will need to be, and what expected results will need to be achieved.

  • Tell them why it matters. Close the Importance Gap. Connect your purpose to the message. Impact their hearts, as well as their minds to the meaning behind the change. Demonstrate how it will deliver an improved experience for your customers, your organization, or your team.

  • Tell them what they need to do. Close the Action Gap. Be clear on the behaviors and the actions that need to take place. Connect this to each individual role on your team. Don’t leave anyone out here or they may feel uneasy about how they play a part in the change.

DABA


Be aware of DABA and prepare for leading through the different phases that the team may go through as they hear and react to your messaging of change. DABA is a simple model that is similar to the stages of grief but narrowed down to focus on change in general. Here are the phases:

  • Denial. The team may begin by denying that the change is really happening. You may hear, “Oh this will pass soon” or, “I can’t believe they are asking us to do this.” It is important to provide clear milestones and remain committed as they are in this phase.

  • Arguing. The team may be extremely emotional here. Be prepared to have individual conversations to address concerns. Also, be aware of complaining amongst themselves. Many times, there is a wall that forms between Arguing and the next phase and it may be extremely hard for some individuals to move past it. It may not be immediately apparent but look for signs of grudging compliance in the team. Things like performance levels dropping, attendance slipping, or even general poor demeanors can be red flags here. It is important to continue to be positive and focused on why the change matters here.

  • Bargaining. The team may start to offer recommendations for alternatives to the strategies you have laid out. This is a good sign that they are coming to accept the fact that the change is happening, but it still demonstrates that they haven’t fully hopped on board. It is important to stay committed to your vision and the careful plans that you have laid out.

  • Acceptance. This is the final stage and your ultimate goal for their accepting the change and commitment to your vision. Leverage people that arrive here early to help move the rest of the team through the phases. Often, peer commitment can have a strong influence on overall acceptance.

As you can see, leading through change takes tremendous focus, commitment, and a strong connection to the emotional state of your team. Avoid taking any of these things for granted, be super clear and strategic in your messaging, and be aware of the mindset of the people you are relying on to make the change.