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The ability to embrace change differentiates the unsuccessful person from the successful person—and it does the same for companies.
While we have all heard (and experienced) that change on individuals is stressful and hardly welcomed, today’s successful businesses are moving faster than ever. If a company can’t jive with the fast-moving advancements in technology, business capabilities, and customer bases, it is static and falling behind.
It is therefore critical for organizations to build a culture that embraces change. It’s not enough to simply manage change; companies must groom change leaders or people who will readily move the organization forward.
Individuals grow and develop best when they are placed outside of their comfort zone, and as leaders, when we can get an entire group of people to operate in that way, we can use it as an engine to propel our organizations forward.
• Commit to being intentional with your words and your actions. This should start at the executive level and continue throughout the organization. You must constantly think of building your culture, one action at a time, with an emphasis on embracing change. Leaders should take opportunities to lead by example, to be fearless in the face of angst, and to show the positive results of embracing change. When leaders do this well, they can create trust within their teams. Without that trust, embracing change will remain a giant obstacle.
• Become an over-communicator. Be as transparent as possible. Talk about any change openly, and celebrate your success in tackling them. During significant times of changes, angst is easily created by having a lack of information. Closing the information gap helps prevent people from coming up with their own versions of reality, which are often times much more negative than actual reality.
• Listen as much as you over-communicate. Provide opportunities for people to express angst about change and then quickly point them in the new direction. This allows you to address any fears head on, and to purge the anxiety. Use their input and feedback as much as possible so they have ownership in the path forward.
• Prioritize developing your people. While in the midst of significant change, many organizations let people development fall to the wayside. Transitioning into a new type of business, for example, can cause angst if employees don’t feel equipped for a different skill set or type of work. Make sure to provide ways to prepare your people for, or concurrent to, organizational change. After all, an organization is nothing without its people.
• Hire new talent. Bringing in fresh perspectives in and of itself presents change for an organization. Growing and changing organizations need new skill sets, new geography or experiences from other industries, and every new person you hire should be a puzzle piece that builds out your capability roadmap.
Building a culture of change leaders is an art much more than it is a science. Its success depends on the genuine trust between individuals in the organization.
Furthermore, the above approaches are essential to an organization’s ability to retain top performers during times of change. Top performers always have the option to leave even in the most static of times, but times of uncertainty can be the catalyst that causes employees to ultimately call it quits with your organization.
You must constantly cycle through the above steps if you want to continuously foster a culture that intentionally embraces change. If you execute the above steps well, you will have a group of individuals that will be your change catalysts—your trusty change leaders.
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