Keeping it human as you lead change


As senior leaders and managers with all our big thoughts and strategies (!), as we design change it is so easy to forget the human angle.  What I’m trying to say is that it is really easy to forget how hard we personally, as individuals find change.  Just look at all those intentions to exercise more, talk to our families more often or learn a language!  I find it helpful to keep thinking what really helps me to change how I work, how I think, how I prioritise?  Change isn’t  just about process maps and data, good change takes into account individual feelings and experience and hard facts and a long hard look at the nitty-gritty.

Many things come together to make change a success, but in particular successful interventions take into account the experience, thoughts and suggestions from different parts of the organisation and a shared understanding and agreement on the facts of the situation, then the solutions.  I work closely with leaders to make sure we are keeping the human aspects of change close to our thinking as we scope, design, plan, decide, experiment and implement.

We also need to remember that times of change and transition are scary for almost everyone and what isn’t daunting today could well be tomorrow.  It is important that we talk about this and celebrate each of the steps towards the change – no matter who makes them. Good newsletters and communications are helpful, but we need to go well beyond that.  I mentor or coach managers to think about how they can best support their teams through the change rather than just keeping their fingers crossed for success.  Many things can help people adapt to the new way of working such as acknowledgement that personally change is hard, just in time training designed to help people do their jobs rather than sheep dipping everyone in the same bland session; rapid feedback and praise.  But one of the most high impact methods is having leaders and managers out floor walking during the first few days/weeks of the change, talking to individuals and teams about what is working and importantly, what isn’t working – catch your own people in the experience and act of changing and help them thrive.

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