In any transition, whether it is leading change through a hostile work environment or attempting to motivate employees, people will go through the change curve. This process could take a couple of days or a few weeks depending on a person’s experience with handling change.

Leaders, managers and top performers will most likely go through the transition with ease. This is because they have the skills to be adaptable, think critically, problem solve and find resources. Leaders and managers have unknowingly adapted to change by fulfilling the responsibilities of their roles, such as seeing through projects and managing employees. When managing a project, leaders learn to adapt to changes every time a deadline is missed or when cost estimates rise. The more familiar a person is with going through the change curve, the easier his/her transition will be.

Change means challenging the status quo.  As a leader, you have to appreciate that challenging the status quo requires a high-stakes conversation. High stakes conversations are discussions between two or more people where there is risk, opposing opinions and strong emotions. The outcome impacts lives, and leading change requires you to get others to adopt a new status quo.

Studies demonstrate that people respond to high stakes conversations one of three ways:

  1. Avoid them.
  2. Face them and handle them poorly.
  3. Face them and handle them well.

One of Tina‘s clients came to her because he knew managing change was hard. He paid Tina the highest of compliments, “Working with you is easy.” What this client was working on was not easy. He was leading a significant change in a workplace where past changes have failed more times than not. In fact, he was afraid–but brave enough to say something–that he missed a critical deadline, and it was costing his business a lot of money. Worse than that, the missed deadline had the potential of harming the trust he built with the people he works with. He told the full story. The depth of the problem was fully revealed…

You are in the midst of changes.  Are the changes successful?  When will you know?  How will you know?  Our clients grapple with these questions, and so do we with every change. It is important to have a plan, but also resources that are benchmarks for what successful change looks like. More important is to set your change apart from others and understand what successful change looks like when you have developed a dependable competency for change.

Change Management Communications Center likes to compare apples and oranges when it comes to measuring the success of your change.  The reason why we like to look beyond “other changes like this” is because the success rate for change has been researched and determined to be very low for more than forty years.  For instance, if you are working on a merger or acquisition, and you know that industry standard estimates only 9 percent of mergers and acquisitions are profitable over time, do you want to compare your success with “industry standard,” or would you like to compare to the target of your own profitability expectations of the merger? Would you also like to know the impact on stakeholders and what retention rates and customer loyalty look like before, during, and after the merger?

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