Knowing how to manage change is an increasingly important skill for businesses. But how do you get your teams to participate in new ways of doing things? By following the seven golden rules of David Askienazy, co-founder of the organization and management consulting firm AM+DA, and co-author of the book Réconcilier les décideurs et le terrain : Pour réussir le changement dans l'entreprise (literally: Reconciling decision-makers and the field: Successful changes in business) (Gereso Publishing, 2015).
Rule no. 1: Take part
This is the fundamental principle of all change management: participating in a project encourages ownership. For example, if you have to make a diagnosis to identify what changes to initiate, get your teams to help carry it out. They’ll stick to the conclusions a lot more easily than if you’d done it without them. Perhaps it’s time to move onto the action plan? The agreed solutions will have a much better chance of implementation if your teams - the ones to apply them - have taken part in their development.
Rule no. 2: Be bossy
Wait a second… we’ve just told you to participate! But it’s not contradictory. Many managers have got bogged down in endless participatory initiatives - producing disappointing results and leaving teams with a sense of unfinished business - for not having respected rule no. 2.
This is because participation works when it is part of a defined framework, with precise rules that are communicated well in advance. Before requesting any kind of participation, give your teams specifications: why are you asking for their input? What are their instructions? In what way will the results of their participation be used? When and how will they be given feedback on their work? And that brings us to rule no. 3…
Rule no. 3: Feedback, feedback... and more feedback
Your teams need regular feedback from you on the results of their participation. For example, which proposals have been selected? What are the results? Never forget: your position within the business gives you distance and a vantage point that your teams don’t necessarily have. Feed them regularly with the overall results of their efforts, which they only partially see from their level. It’s a sign of recognition and encouragement, and your leadership will come out of it all the stronger.
Rule no. 4: Enlist the support of your own managers
You’ll rally your teams a lot more easily if your superiors clearly show their support for the project. Request their support, don’t wait for it to come to you. A famous former president once said: don’t ask your boss what they can do for you, ask your boss what you can do for them! So, rally your bosses! For example, ask your manager or a key sponsor of a project to introduce your next meeting on the subject, or to talk about expected changes through an interview in your next newsletter.
Rule no. 5: Don’t plan everything
Have you applied the previous rules? Then change is on the right track. But know that no matter how well designed something is, it’ll never go quite as planned. Never announce the “big day” of change. Your credibility will be dented. Instead, embrace uncertainty and devise a mechanism aimed at dealing with all the unexpected events that may arise during implementation. Your teams, knowing that many problems cannot be identified and resolved until things are firmly in place, will be that much more confident. And their willingness to give it their best will be increased.
Rule no. 6: Have impeccable logistics
Managing change presents enough complications without your teams facing extra, pointless stress as a result of logistical guesswork. Plan meetings well enough in advance, don’t arrange training too early nor too late. And remember to book a room for the next working group!
It’s not about details. Many managers with an excellent vision of change lose considerable trust capital with their teams due to neglecting golden rule no. 6.
Rule no. 7: Keep it simple
The world of change management suffers from a surfeit of theoretical tools and complicated methods. Give it a test: type “change management” into a search engine, select “images” and see the results…
Free your mind from the templates, arrows and curves you’ll see before you. Re-read rules 1-6, focus your energy on seriously applying them… and you’ll take a giant leap towards success.
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