Do What Scares You (AKA Managing Change) Part 2
*This is the second part of a two-part blog post focusing on how successfully managing fear leads to a better outcome for your SME. The change process can be imposed on our businesses by external circumstances or sought out when we want to take our small to mid-sized company through a growth phase. In this post, we’re looking at how to reduce or eliminate fear in the change management process.
In Part One of Do What Scares You, the focus was on the expression of fear. As noted by this critical review of organisational change management research, “…the need for change often is unpredictable, it tends to be reactive, discontinuous, ad hoc and often triggered by a situation of organisational crisis.” (Rune Todnem, 2005). This can include denial, anger, disengagement/fatalism and disorientation. The thing to remember is that no one is immune from fear. It’s an emotion. That doesn’t mean that you have to be at its mercy though. The reactive response is often based on fears.
How do you reduce or eliminate these fears?
There is no way of knowing for sure that you will succeed. However…you have gone through the change process before and you’re still functioning. Your business is still open. Chances are that you can manage this change as well.
So many organisations fail in their change management process. Your business doesn’t have to.
Many of these failures are due to lack of attention to the human element. To keep the fear from running the process, it is incumbent on the business owner/CEO to pay attention to these suggestions:
1. Vision-Write (or draw) your desired end result in as much detail as you (and your team) can imagine
2. Label why change is necessary now-This encourages proactive action rather than reactive “We gotta do something!”
3. Manage your stress (and encourage your team to do the same)-Problems can’t be solved from a panicked state of mind. Deep breathing, go for a walk, look out of the window, exercise, spend time with friends or family, talk with a trusted person, eat healthy food or whatever helps you to stay on an even keel.
4. Communicate-Create communication pathways so there isn’t a vacuum for people to fill in with their “what if” scenarios. Listen to their messages as well as sending out your message. Make it safe for everyone in your organisation to talk about the intended changes.
5. Make sure everyone knows the strategic plan-This is about communication also. Make sure everyone knows the end goal, why this result will be good for the company and how the organisation is going to get there.
6. Include accountability in the change management plan-Write down and make public who is responsible for specific tasks, the milestones or deadlines and who is responsible for oversight. Whenever possible, have your team design the assignments and accountability partners.
7. If you’re getting in over your head or frustrated, consider using a consultant or coach-Using these experts makes sense. They tend to be more objective and skilled in guiding SME’s like yours through the change process. Make sure you feel comfortable and trust this person.
You can do what scares you
It takes forethought and commitment to keep the fear experienced by you and your team from running the process. There are too many organisations who are filled with resentful people who feel ill treated by the decision makers. This doesn’t have to be your experience. Change is unsettling and there are no guarantees.
What strategies have you used or seen other business use that successfully navigated the change process?