Leading Change: 5 Steps to Success

We’ve all seen it: adapt or die. That’s why smart executives are adept at leading change. They understand how people make decisions (including the decision to change) and create a compelling vision. I wrote about this in my last post.

Develop an Effective Plan

Your next step is to develop an effective plan. Change has no chance of success without it. Plans must include the participation of managers and staff, and may require outside resources. It needs to be realistic regarding scope, timing and staffing. Nothing crushes a vision faster than a plan that can’t be accomplished well.

When I discuss this with my coaching clients I encourage them to seek input from their employees. An engaged staff is the primary resource a leader has in seeing a vision to fruition. It’s no longer the leader’s vision; it’s everyone’s vision.

An involved staff is made responsible for their assigned tasks. While each person is held accountable, leaders also encourage them to help each other. The plan comes together with this collective effort, where walls are taken down and territories are de-emphasized.

Organizing people into special task forces or teams can make effective use of their skills and time. Give them authority to make decisions or enhance the plan. An empowered team finds even better solutions and innovations. This enhances their sense of purpose and value. Their enthusiasm will be contagious and augment your promotional efforts.

Allocate Resources

The greatest plan for change cannot be fulfilled without the proper resources. The fastest way to lose the enthusiasm you established in your people is to sabotage their efforts by withholding the resources they need to make the changes your plan calls for.

Your people are the experts in understanding what they need. It may be new policies or procedures. It may be equipment or systems. It could require more people: either with the same skills or new skillsets the group doesn’t currently have. Talent may simply need to be repurposed, switching people’s roles to accomplish the plan.

Regardless, leaders need to be open to making the investments needed whether in daily expenditure or capital investment. This is a point stressed by MIT lecturer Douglas Ready in his HBR article, 4 Things Successful Change Leaders Do Well. Leaders who support short and long-term investment plans have the greatest chances of realizing their vision. Proper investments not only make the plan feasible during its implementation, but keep the vision (and the company) strong long after the changes are made.

Great change leaders invest for the future, willing to bear short-term pain for long-term gain. They motivate their people to appreciate the investments and make the most effective use of them.

In my next post, I’ll share the fourth and fifth steps of leading change. In the meantime, what do you think? I’d love to hear from you. You can call me at 704-827-4474; let’s talk. And as always, I can be reached here or on LinkedIn.

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