We have an opportunity to redefine how we view change and, as leaders, help others view change differently.
This is about helping people within organisations see change not as a singular thing that happens every now and then, but as a constant. It’s important that leaders help employees see this and support them to align more to their core strength, rather than putting their self-worth, happiness, fulfilment, wellbeing and ultimately performance in the hands of external factors. This is where the magic formula for resilience lies. Operating from a place of inside-out, rather than outside-in. Leaders need to understand how to do this effectively in order to help others.
Typically, however, change programmes reinforce an outside-in approach.
Here’s an example. Organisations often go through change programmes. They form a team, layout the roadmap for change ahead, and box it up as a single thing with a start and an end point, often with so many unknowns.
Neil Trevena, Director of Delivery here at Ivy House, has experienced this exact process at a previous business.
“Half way through the process, I realised that all we’re doing is evolving the business and making decisions to make the business better. Isn’t that what we should be doing on a daily basis anyway? This really helped me see change differently. I started to look inwards and guess what, I found greater energy, fulfilment and enjoyment as I started to fully align with who I wanted to be. No longer was I putting how I showed up in the hands of external factors that I had no control over whatsoever.”
In reality, change is evolvement – and so there is never really a finish. There may be longer periods in between decisions and disruption, but it’s about evolving to make better businesses.
It’s natural that people will have a resistance to change. We see it when an organisation comes to us to make a transformational change in their business, which requires behavioural change. If you said to someone ‘we’re going to put you on a behavioural change programme’ – it won’t be welcomed with open arms.
In order to create real change, people have to want to engage, feel motivated and see the benefits for themselves as well as their organisation. We’ve never had a delegate join one of our leadership development programmes and say ‘I’m here because my organisation wants me to change my behaviour and I’m really excited by that.’
There is a real need to ready people for change, and this is both the organisation’s and the individual’s responsibility to make it a success.
As Neil says, it’s all in the communication: “Time and time again, businesses will form a transformation team and announce what’s happening with an unspoken implication that if you don’t like it, you can work somewhere else – so you have to do this. Instantly people are resentful and resistant and that’s really hard to claw back from. How on earth is this helping?”
Don’t overlook the grapevine. All organisations have a one, and what is said and shared on that grapevine is not under the control of leaders. Being consciously aware of what is being said can uncover people’s fears and concerns, and allows you to lead with a narrative that addresses these concerns.
If people understand that there will be an ongoing focus on evolving the business to make it the best it can be and that their people are a huge part of that, it becomes a totally different proposition to ‘this is a one-off change process that is being done to you’.
Motivation is often ignored by businesses as it requires spending time with and listening to people to understand their individual motivations. So how do we help people change their mindset around change?
In order to get your people there, you need to tap into what’s important to them. It can’t just be ‘we want you to do this’ because you’ll lose people’s motivation, engagement and excitement.
While organisations and leaders need to be looking at the future and having a vision and a plan, we also need to upskill our people to be comfortable with change, and resilient to deal with uncertainty. A plane is off course 90% of its time from taking off and landing at its destination. It has to deal with weather conditions continually, none of which is planned for. So the way we view change needs to be more focused on understanding that we’re continually making small changes in our lives, but when we have direction and purpose we can still see the path ahead.
There is a belief that people’s wellbeing and happiness is all based on outside factors; things happen to them that cause them to feel upset, angry or unsettled. But the truth is that resilience and wellbeing comes from inside us all – curve balls and changes may knock us momentarily off balance, but when people are totally aligned to who they are as a person like the illustration below, they can get themselves back on track quickly.
Most organisations who want to create change are looking for change in individual performance, to drive organisational performance.
The problem is most programmes won’t create the change you are looking for.
Most programmes are built to simply develop a set of skills that ‘good’ leaders are deemed to need… which doesn’t fundamentally change behaviour. And that’s the bottom line, right? If you’re going to create real, deep-seated change, you need to know how to do exactly that.
The good news? That’s our expertise.
We are experts in leadership development and behavioural change. Our approach is truly unique and our results exceptional. Our programmes create transformational, long-term change in individuals, behaviour, performance and culture.