When we released our groundbreaking study this year, “The State of Uncertainty and The Impact on Business Today,” one of the biggest shifts we saw in the benchmark report was how employees were reacting to uncertainty and change.
In 2020/21, team members reported feeling overwhelmed but motivated and excited to find ways to push through the pandemic and help their customers and their company survive. This year’s study revealed that while people still feel overwhelmed, instead of being motivated and excited, they feel burnt out and exhausted. Rather than choosing to innovate and find answers, they are choosing to opt out – give up, allowing whatever changes happen to just let them come.
The danger of this response is that the very thing you need when the marketplace is shifting is your team. Your team needs to be engaged, passionate, and open to new ideas and opportunities, actively looking for ways to overcome challenges and take advantage of opportunities.
Think about how much change happens in an organization. New technology, opening new markets, mergers and acquisitions, change in leadership, market shifts, new competition, and the list goes on. When you think about it, leading a team through change is probably the MOST important leadership skill.
So, you need to ask yourself, as a leader, as you ready, are you prepared? Here are a few strategies to get you started.
5 Strategies You Need to Build a Team Excited and Motivated by Change:
1. Relentless Vision – One of the biggest reasons I think teams struggle with change is very few members can see much more than the challenges in front of them. Less than two percent of our population is visionary, meaning they can see beyond the change. Others are strategic – just twelve percent, meaning that if you can paint the future, they can draw the map to get there. So, to the rest of us (86%), guess what? We are tactical thinkers. Meaning we can only see the obstacles that change creates. As a leader, you need to realize that job one is creating a relentless vision. Please note, I did not say a vision, a relentless vision. Once you are so focused on, and one you focus your team on, that everyone can see beyond the obstacles.
It is very important to respect the fact that when going through change, the mind will find what it focuses on. So, your job as the leader is to refocus the team off the change and on to the opportunity.
2. Engage The Team – People hate change because it makes them feel out of control like they have a loss of autonomy. You can give them some of that back by engaging them in the process. Ask them for their ideas and opinions, and let them feel they have some level of say on how you and your company will navigate this change.
3. Give them a role – Once you are clear on where you are headed, you need to give everyone a job; some level of responsibility on how you will get there. The knowledge that what they are doing is important, combined with being a part of a team and not letting their team members down, is key to helping people move forward and get unstuck as they look at the overwhelming change in front of them. For example, your job is to make sure that our customer experience remains top-notch as we implement our new CRM. Or your role is to help your team members understand the why behind our move into these new markets.
4. Prioritize the WHY – keep the team focused on the WHY. Change is uncomfortable, even painful sometimes; that is why your team resists it, for goodness’ sake. As the leader, you need to give your team something else to focus on besides the change, and that something is why you are doing this.
Maybe you are doing this to help more customers. Maybe you are doing this to make a bigger impact in your market. Maybe you are doing this to ensure your company thrives through the economic downturn. Whatever the reason, help your team stay focused on it.
5. Focus on Progress – and speaking of focus, as the leader, progress is your friend and perfection your enemy. Listen, change is hard and challenging, and people struggle with it. There is little chance the change will happen as fast as you want it to. That is okay; progress is all that you are looking for. Did you change more than you did yesterday – great, that is a success! Focusing on progress ensures that the change will stick, and every step in your team’s right direction will lead to bigger steps.
Change is hard for everyone. As a leader, you need to understand that your role is critical. It matters how you show up, what you say to the team, and how seriously you take your responsibility in the process.