I’ve observed that the most successful change agents involve their people early in the strategic process. Their knowledge and expertise are valuable in creating the plan and early involvement builds buy-in to the process.
Your people want to be a part of a successful endeavor whenever that is possible. It’s a feel-good experience all around when change is driven by everyone’s involvement versus when change is forced.
Great change leaders know that change does not happen on its own; effective change not only must be managed, it must be led. Building on fundamental pillars of change, great leaders begin with vision.
This is part 2 of the 3-part series on Being a Great Change Leader by Diana Gabriel, Certified Strengths Strategy Coach.Great change agents engage their people by making the investments and using them effectively. Click To Tweet
Establish a Plan
Change has no chance of success without a well-designed strategic plan to make it happen. Plans must include the involvement of managers and staff and may require outside resources. Your plans need to be realistic regarding scope, timing, staffing, and resources for execution. Nothing crushes a vision faster than a plan that can’t be accomplished well.
How can you ensure that these things are properly considered? Ask your experts: your people. As a leader, you develop successful plans by involving your people—getting their input, their ideas, and building their buy-in throughout the design process. An engaged staff is the primary resource you have in seeing your vision to fruition. It’s then no longer your vision; it’s everyone’s vision.
An engaged staff assumes responsibility for their assigned tasks. While each person is held accountable, they also need to be encouraged 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 based on their strengths increases the possibility of a successful outcome. An empowered team finds even better solutions and innovations. So, give them the authority to make decisions or enhance the plan. This will boost their sense of purpose and value and their enthusiasm will be contagious, augmenting your promotional efforts.
Making the Investment
The greatest plan for change cannot be successfully fulfilled without the adequate resources. The fastest way to lose the enthusiasm you established in your people is to sabotage their efforts by not providing the resources they need to succeed in making the changes your plan requires.
Again, 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 skill sets the group doesn’t currently have. Talent may simply need to be repurposed, switching people’s roles to accomplish the plan.
Regardless, you 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 also keep the vision (and the company) strong long after the initial changes are made.
Great change agents know they need to invest for the future, willing to bear short-term pain for long-term gain. They engage their people by making the investments and using them effectively.
What has been your experience either as the change agent or being a part of a team charged with making the change? How have you established a plan when leading change? I’d love to hear from you. You can reach me here and on LinkedIn.