I spent the holidays connecting with old friends, former colleagues and family I haven’t talked with in a great deal of time. So good for my soul. Remember my friend who was disenchanted with his job? I wrote about him previously as I know his struggle is common and there were so many powerful lessons to highlight (in case you missed it, you can catch it here). He was one of the friends I reconnected with and I found him still very frustrated. Of course, I asked what the latest challenges were. I got an earful.
With the turn of the new year came new changes at his job. My friend lamented that these changes could not have come at a worse time and quite frankly he didn’t understand why it had to happen now. Right at the start of the new year. In the middle of a pandemic. When finances are tight and morale is a challenge. It just seemed to him like it was adding more fuel to the fire.
I asked him if he shared his feelings with his boss, or talked with his boss about the possible impacts of the changes that were having detrimental impacts to the company. My friend’s response? “I would if I thought it would help. It won’t. He doesn’t care.”
Now of course, as leaders, we may be called on to lead and implement changes that are not necessarily popular and sometimes may create strife or hardship in the short term, to achieve longer term outcomes. It’s the way that leaders choose to do it that can make or break the success of the change.
I refer often to the ADKAR® change model. It’s a model I learned in my hospital operations career when I started to cut my OD teeth. ADKAR® stands for Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability and Reinforcement. When thinking of my friend’s predicament, it seems his leader skipped the first two steps in the model: building awareness of the reason for the change and shoring up the desire for stakeholders to support and participate in the change. To my friend, the change seemed like it was decided on a haphazard whim without much rhyme or reason to it. When people don’t understand the “why” or the “what’s in it for them,” you’ll seldom have success in getting the buy-in, interest or participation you want. Even worse, you get someone like my friend who feels marginalized, not in the loop and is looking for a new job as soon as he can move.
One’s job as a leader is to set the course, remove the obstacles and get out of the way. Part of setting the course is to make sure your journeymen understand where they are going and why they are taking the trip. If this isn’t addressed you might find yourself behind the wheel alone.
As a leader, how are you creating the awareness and desire needed for change? Where might you be falling short? What’s one thing you can do differently to inspire buy-in and participation when rolling out a change? I look forward to hearing your insights.
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Photo credit: Tanner Larson via http://www.unsplash.com