Encourage Continuous Learning
The knowledge you and your people possess has long-term value for the company. If you stop learning, you stop having the ability to contribute to the continued development of the organization. Learning is vital, because things change so quickly—technology, the industry, the marketplace, etc. You have to keep up and know what’s current to stay relevant to customers.
Encourage your staff to attend seminars, read books, stay abreast of industry news, and seek internal feedback and mentoring. The more learning opportunities people have, the more valued they’ll feel, and the more they’ll want to contribute to the change process.
Hold People to Commitments
No change will ever be complete if people abandon their responsibilities midstream. You need to hold employees accountable for their commitments. First, make sure they have the skills to do the job. If they don’t, there’s no way they’ll be successful. Then monitor their progress and evaluate how they’re contributing (or not) to the change process.
Realize that monitoring doesn’t mean micro-managing. It simply means keeping the pulse of the whole work flow to ensure all the pieces of the process fit together and are getting done. When you find someone isn’t contributing effectively, you must be willing to confront the person and deal with the problem in a constructive way that gets the work back on track.
Be Clear, Consistent and Continuous
You have to be clear and consistent about the change, what’s occurring, what needs to occur, and the vision and goals for the company. Spell out where the company is going as well as the plan to get there. When you’re not clear or consistent, your message gets garbled and people don’t understand it. That’s when problems happen and change becomes risky. You think you’re communicating one thing, but no one understands your real message so they pull in a different direction. Make sure everyone is on the same page.
Also, don’t just relay the message once. You have to consistently revisit it and make sure everyone is still on board. Allow people to ask questions and, if possible, contribute to the message. People buy into an idea more easily if they feel they took part in shaping it.
Approach Change Proactively
Change that’s mandated from outside factors is often uncomfortable, but this doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. In fact, when approached correctly, this sort of change can open your eyes to new possibilities, customer bases, revenue streams, and even product and service offerings.
Tackle these externally influenced changes proactively and you’ll have the upper hand. Not only will you fare better than your competitors during the change, but you’ll also emerge as the marketplace leader. That’s one change you’ll definitely welcome.
Danita Johnson Hughes, Ph.D., is a healthcare industry executive, public speaker and author of the forthcoming Turnaround. Through her work, she inspires people to dream big and understand the role of personal responsibility in personal and professional success. For more information, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org; visit www.danitajohnsonhughes.com .