Many people pose questions about managing change, getting people on board with company cultural shifts, or gaining support for new programs. Today, I want to focus on the barriers that may be holding you back from getting change moving and keeping it going.
First of all, are you really on board?
If you're holding on to any doubts or concerns, this could undermine your ability to build support. People will sense if you're halfhearted, and will notice if you're withholding your time, attention or resources. They'll also know if you're trying something new every six months, and then might be waiting for the newest fad to blow over. If that's the case, take a step back and figure out what you really want for your company or your team.
Most people who raise this issue are fully committed to change. They're faced, instead, with a variety of challenges that are holding them back. In that case, you need to look at what you're willing to do to bring about the needed changes.
Are you giving the change enough visibility?
It may be a matter of raising its profile so that your employees are aware of the new direction. It's often stated that you can't overcommunicate; in my experience, people often err on the side of undercommunication, reasoning that they don't want to fill up e-mail, they don't want to bother people, etc. Some employees may conclude that it isn't really important.
Are you resourcing the new program appropriately?
Too often, projects land on the desk of the busiest people. Making it worse, they don't have other responsibilities taken off their plate. This virtually ensures that the project won't succeed as well as it could. Instead of creating an environment where special assignments become a burden, offer them as a reward and growth opportunity — minus the 80-hour week.
Are you tapping into your company's collective knowledge?
If you talk to the people who are currently doing the work and give them a chance to contribute, you automatically build buy-in. It's now their program. The best part is, you'll likely have a far better outcome because of the insights and information they share.
Are you expecting the best of people?
Do you expect them to be open to change and willing to give the new approach a fair shot? Some people may be trying, but are truly afraid for their job security or their ability to do their work in a new way. Assume the best of them and give them support. Most of these people will rise to your vision for them.
Are you enforcing your expectations?
Most organizations have at least a few people who resist change almost on principle. If they have influential personalities, they may be able to sour large groups of people on the new direction. You simply cannot allow this to continue. Be direct and clear, including consequences for sabotage. Then follow through if no other steps are effective to prevent potentially dramatic negative effects on the change you're trying to achieve.
It comes down to being willing to make choices about where you put your resources and take a strong approach to helping your people move forward.
What challenges do you face at work? Send your questions to Liz Reyer, a credentialed coach and president of Reyer Coaching & Consulting in Eagan. She can be reached at email@example.com.