Leading Through Change
Being a strong change catalyst is critical to being an effective mentor. In order to "inspire others to continually strive for higher levels of performance through creative and strategic methods that are always focused to achieving your goals" you must move through the personal emotions that change creates so that you can effectively lead others. Here are some critical suggestions for assisting you in developing strong change management skills in order to assist the organization through transition periods.
Communicate upwards, not downwards or sideways
During any type of change, it is natural to gain insight from your peers or to speak with people who report to you. When a change is first announced, most people react emotionally not logically. So if you are communicating to others based on emotion, you may be releasing some feelings that are not conducive to moving forward with new processes. Focus your communication with those above you for the purpose of understanding more of the reasons, results and ramifications of the change. Once you have information and feel comfortable with the direction, your communication downwards and sideways will be more logical in nature, rather than emotional. At this time your communication will assist the organization in consistently getting out the right message and helping others through their adaptation process. If negative emotions escape, they are difficult to overcome later and may be detrimental to the success of the organization.
Hear others concerns without feeding into them
You will be hearing many things during a time of change. Some information will be true, some will be assumptions, some will be misunderstandings and some will be created. Focus on what is being said and understanding the feelings. By asking more questions than making statements, you will be acknowledging the feelings of others without contributing to any true or false impressions. By asking strategic questions, you will also be helping others to assess their feelings and gain new insights.
Times of change are not times to be silent. It is not advised that you snuff your feelings, simply channel them in productive directions. Ask questions and seek to understand everything you need to know. Do not be afraid to ask the same questions over and over. Management is there to support the changes and help guide your journey to success.
Note your feelings and actions
Change is definitely a process. Many times change invokes initial fears of inadequacy or uncertainty. Then you may feel confusion and may feel as though everything was going along just fine before and now you feel a sense of disorder or chaos. Then you may experience times of disappointment or anger because this was not your vision or your idea of how things should be. Then there are times of hesitancy as you try the new methods but still feel comfortable with the old ways. And finally there is acceptance. This is now the time for the "new norm". Things start to settle down and everyone falls into alignment with the new plan. Understand the stages of your feelings and ensure that you are moving in a positive direction through the continuum.
Surround yourself with positive influences and those who are successfully finding their way through the maze of changes. Look to them for answers and direction. Latch on to these change catalysts and follow their lead. They know the way.
Embrace the opportunity!
Change is always a little scary because it is a place of unknown entities. Take time to explore the new picture and find where you feel comfortable in the grand scheme of things. Everyone must find their place in the new state of the organization. Look for opportunities of growth. Take this time to learn about yourself and explore your strengths. Seize this opportunity and look for ways to capitalize on the transformations. These changes may open up doors for you that you never knew existed. Seize this moment to drive your destiny!
Kimberly King, President of InterWeave, passes on her passion for WOW service during conferences, training sessions and keynote speeches. Her enthusiasm for putting the Customer first is contagious as she shares anecdotes from her more than 23 years of experience in call center leadership. The detailed tips and strategies provide you with all the how-to steps to make a difference in your business. Visit www.interweavecorp.com for more information on effective mentoring and insights on creating WOW customer experiences.
For practical help with your change program, check out our resource kit, Managing Change in the Workplace. Its tools, exercises, techniques and tips cover every aspect of managing change. Visit the Managing Change in the Workplace information portal to find out how to download the free Introductory Chapter and start using this practical change management guide and workbook today.