Times have changed. The life we are living today is not the one we expected even a year ago. At the beginning of 2020, the housing market was riding high like we haven’t seen in a long time. Interest rates were low and people were optimistic. No one ever anticipated that a pandemic would shut down most of the country, that people would be afraid to go grocery shopping, let alone walk into a model home.
But it happened. We have experienced an unprecedented change in our world. Like any disruption, you either take control and manage change or the change will manage you. It’s up to the leaders to navigate change within their organizations, to provide a sense of certainty when the people who count on you are feeling overwhelmed with uncertainty.
I’ve heard some who say, “let’s wait it out.” Is that managing change? No, it’s just hoping that the wave doesn’t sweep you away.
Here’s how you effectively manage change.
- Acknowledge it. Don’t sugar-coat the situation that prompts change. That’s disrespectful of your team members. Yes, it’s a tough time. Right now, people are scared. They’re losing their jobs for reasons that have absolutely nothing to do with the performance. Be open and transparent with your team about your commitment to the organization as a whole and to the people who comprise this group.
- Communicate your plan. Your team members will feel more confident when they know that the leadership has mapped out a strategy for working through the logistics and impact of change—and beyond. Explain the “why” that drives the “what”, “how”, and “when”. People can better embrace change when they understand the reason behind it. There is no room for “Because I said so” in today’s corporate culture.
- Establish KPIs. Key performance indicators will measure the effectiveness of change. When you communicate the plan, also be clear as to how you will monitor its progress. For example, “By this date, we expect to have achieved this result.” Then, be sure you actually follow through and look at those metrics and the timeline you laid out. You can’t expect buy-in from your team if you’re not willing to put in the work to weigh the results.
- Be accountable. A good leader shares the credit and accepts the blame. If the change isn’t working, don’t waste time pointing fingers. Instead, seek solutions. Encourage team members to innovate and praise them when they do.
- Be agile. Agility is the ability to move swiftly, with grace and ease (or at least, making it appear that way). Effectively managing change requires that you don’t stumble repeatedly. If you see flaws in your plan or its execution, change it. Then go back to the first step and start managing change again.
The change we’re dealing with right now is truly unique. That doesn’t mean another obstacle isn’t lying just outside of our view. Get in the habit of learning to embrace change and manage it effectively.