Change is hard. Changing the way we think, behave, work, and lead others is really hard. It takes dedicated, intentional focus. It takes dedicated, intentional restraint. It takes dedicated, intentional action. It takes dedication to change.
I've circled back and had interactions with two client groups recently who are experiencing the frustrations of change. Their organizations have been working to enhance their leadership teams, implement focused strategic plans, and implement a number of operational and personnel enhancements over the past 18 to 36 months. One company has made dramatic operational and personnel changes during this timeframe, the other less so.
However, each organization and leadership team is experiencing the frustrations of change.
- They've each experienced the plateaus of excitement. This is no longer new and different. This is now a pain!
- They've each experienced the frustration at the slowness of some of the changes. Why don't they change the way they think and behave? They still default to what's comfortable instead of what's right!
- They've each had eruptions and finger-pointing moments up and down the leadership chain. It's the senior team's fault! It's the middle managers' fault! It's the fault of those front-line supervisors!
- They've each stated the changes to strategies, operations, and leadership behaviors work has been helpful, but they do interfere with "real" work. We seem to meet more than before to talk things through. It takes time away from getting the work done. We're a small organization with managers who have to be doers at times too! If we're meeting and talking all the time, there's no one to do the work.
- They've each felt the frustrations of their teams "back-sliding" during the change process. We're back-sliding. We're spinning our wheels!
Each of their experiences is painful, stressful, and very real. Yet when asked a few questions to gauge how dedicated and intentional they've been to the change process, their responses are telling:
- Are you adjusting your leadership style to lead the teams as they currently need to be led? Not consistently. Well, we're trying to when we focus on it.
- Are you providing clear, consistent, continuous communication up, down, and across the organization? No. But, we've told the supervisors to communicate more. They're not doing it though or they're not communicating very clearly.
- Are you keeping the entire organization regularly apprised on how the organization is doing in moving forward on the strategic plan? No. We've had a lot of changes in the business over the past several months and we really haven't had time.
- Are you taking the time to train people, have "Necessary Conversations™" with employees immediately to provide feedback, and use those learning opportunities as on-the-spot training opportunities? Some. We're getting better at that.
- Are you modeling the types of behaviors you expect of everyone? Living the Values? For the most part. We still tend to be reactionary and over-committed than proactive, and strategic. We've cancelled a lot of meetings and other things lately because we're all so busy.
So what's changed? You wanted a more engaged, productive, trusting, independent workforce and leadership team. Your current style of leadership and the organizational structure you've stalled at is better than it was. However, it still doesn't support the type of workforce or leadership team you want.
If you want your organization and team to change, you need to change the way you lead. And, you need to keep changing.