One of the vaguest buzz phrases in business is “change management.” We all know it helps get organizations “rowing the same direction,” but what does it mean to business leaders to manage change when we’re constantly evolving, improving, and growing our businesses?
Change management is about slowing down and re-focusing so you can lead yourself and others through something new or different. As goal-driven business leaders, we tend to see a challenge and jump right in to tackle it. Using our formal and informal education, time-tested industry knowledge, strong will and hardy work ethic, we believe we can power through almost anything. Most of the time, we’re right.
But for new and different challenges, the “get ‘er done” approach can lead to a real risk of missing important details, and leaving the people we are leading and developing far behind. The good news is the two main steps for effective change management—solid planning and persistent sponsorship—are familiar to most everyone and have been part of our business fabric for generations.
Step one is a mindset shift. Benjamin Franklin advised the adage, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” If we recognize that a priority or project feels new or different for us as leaders, it’s logical to assume it will also be different and likely far more challenging for the people we lead. How challenging, though? All it takes to find out is paying attention—pulling a few people aside to ask about their concerns and needs before they require a more expensive and time-consuming “cure.” That puts us in the driver’s seat, where we can use our experience and strong will to not only drive the solution, but also coach and guide those who will make the future happen with us.
Step two is a continued focus on our behaviors and progress when difficult changes are happening. Look no further than Notre Dame football great Knute Rockne for the necessary ingredient here. He famously said, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” Change management is about leaders being a constant presence throughout change, consistently sharing the “why,” listening attentively for natural resistance and summoning courage and extra effort from people to think and do differently.
No matter how complex your next challenge is, remember these two critical steps and their adages to help simplify your change management responsibilities as a leader.
You can also ensure your financial institution implements your next change management project with efficiency and success by recognizing where you need assistance. Wipfli offers a full range of change management services, including change-readiness assessments, communication planning, and resistance management. Contact us to learn more.