Change is easier when people are actually excited about it. So, to change well, find out what people actually want—what would make them most excited if they saw it—and then incorporate as much of that as you can.
The single most important thing you can do is ask people ahead of time what they would like to change. You have ideas—so do they. The more you can bring those together, the more likely it is that people will get on board.
Senior leaders need this input. People at different levels of your company see things you don’t. That’s important data.
This may seem obvious. It’s execution that really makes the difference. Most of us are just moving too fast and we get too far down the road before we remember to get input from others (if we do it at all).
(There will always be people who don’t do well with change, and next week we’ll talk about how to handle that.)
So how can you effectively get people’s input?
- Make this a recurring request. Ask early and often!
- Make it easy for people to share. Ask the team as a group; ask in one-on-ones; ask managers to talk to their own teams and bring back what they hear; make anonymous surveys; run focus groups with an outside facilitator if necessary. Sometimes you’ll need to ask several times and several ways before people tell you what they really think.
- Don’t wait until you’re already pretty sure you know what you’re going to do. People can tell if this is just a formality. If you’re in that situation, it might be better just to act and get people on board later. But if you’re able to slow down and really listen, it might make all the difference between someone being resistant and someone being excited.
- Do this before either making or announcing plans for any change. That way, you can incorporate others’ perspectives into your decisions, and then say: “We heard you, and we’re doing something about it.”
- Make sure there’s a way to report back to people what you heard. You don’t need to share everything everyone said. But if you ask people for input, you need to honor them by showing that you’ll actually do something with it.
Here’s what this doesn’t mean:
- This doesn’t mean decision-by-committee. That’s almost never effective. Don’t say or imply that you’ll do whatever people ask for. Just make clear that you respect people enough to listen to them.
- This doesn’t mean treating all opinions alike, whether they’re well-informed or not.
- This doesn’t mean change needs to take forever. You can give a very specific, limited window of time for people to share opinions. This is especially important if it’s time-sensitive. Just tell people that they’ve got until a certain date to share, and after that you’re moving forward.
Here are questions to ask yourself as you apply this information:
Are you planning to make a change sometime soon? Who will be most affected by it? How can you involve them in the process to make acceptance and excitement more likely?
Incorporating people’s desires and insights into the change process fosters excitement and ownership, paving the way for smoother transitions. By actively seeking input and valuing diverse perspectives, leaders can harness the collective wisdom of their teams to drive successful change initiatives.
See how our team can help you implement change. Contact us today.