Change is key in business for remaining relevant and ahead of the curve. But, while managers love change, employees often fear it or fight it. You always can fire an employee if she doesn't get with the program, but that's not good business sense. True leadership demands getting buy-in from those you lead. What's more, doing so can make your job easier.
With these five steps, you can implement change and ensure a smooth transition with employees who are on board and will work hard because they want to.
1. Lay out the vision.
Clearly state what is changing and why. Show employees where you are today and where you intend to be tomorrow. Make sure you show them why this matters to the organization, how it will positively impact their careers and how you plan to measure success.
2. Personalize tasks.
Make sure the tasks you assign to each person play to their strengths. When people are set up for success, they are more motivated to achieve. Like trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, nothing will get done if you have a big-picture person working on detail-rich tasks. Be clear with each person about how their work is vital to the outcome. Then set measurable goals and let them know how they will be held accountable. If appropriate, let the individuals take part in defining the work they will be undertaking.
3. Follow up.
Stay connected to ensure that everyone is clear about the mission that they are working toward. Keep an open-door policy as much as possible. If that's not feasible, consider making yourself available via email or during certain hours of the day. It's important that employees let you know when challenges arise. That's not to say you should listen to every gripe and complaint, but you can let everyone know you are empathetic to their concerns and are willing to work with them to find solutions. Further, encourage employees to bring a solution with them when making you aware of a problem.
4. Nip resistance in the bud.
Be aggressive in addressing instances where you see resistance. This is important for two reasons. First, small problems have a nasty habit of ballooning into bigger ones. Second, you don't want unhappy employees poisoning the minds of other employees who have already bought in.
5. Be prepared to change the change.
Just as employees resist change, sometimes we fail to realize that our own changes aren't working the way we want them to. Assuming you have the right workers on the right task, solicit their feedback. You have to be prepared to take the advice they give and adjust your own game plan. Sometimes that means midcourse corrections. Other times, it means scrapping the plan and starting from scratch. That's not defeat -- it's the ultimate sign that you value the buy-in your employees have for your ideas.