Having a workforce that’s ready and able to harness change will make the difference between success and failure.
Leaders at every level need to embrace and model how to engage in and affect change. Personal leadership and engagement, however, is not enough. For change to be operationalized, you need to inspire your team to be creative and enable them to innovate. But innovation only happens when people are able to work in the gray space — where ambiguity is okay and business principles, rather than hard and fast rules, apply.
Here are five daily practices you can put in place to inspire and enable your team to become change makers:
- Tell stories. Stories can be powerful examples of how people overcame challenges. Think about the challenges your employees are facing, and share stories that relate to them.
- Create dialogue, inviting others to ask questions and share emotions, experiences, and insights. Change stirs up lots of emotions (fear, frustration, and anxiety, to name a few). Hold regular meetings for people to express what they’re worried about, and encourage them to be honest.
- Ask “what if?” questions in one-on-one and team meetings. “What if we built our workflows from scratch — what would they look like?” “What if we were all freelancers — how would we solve problems differently?” Use change as a catalyst to rethink the ways things are done.
- Treat mistakes as learning opportunities. Everyone messes up, so encourage people to talk about how their mistakes have helped them grow. Build a culture that rewards employees for taking smart risks.
- Champion cross-boundary collaboration and networks to open up thinking and gain new perspectives. To become change makers, your team needs to hear a variety of voices and get a variety of perspectives.
Organizations that succeed are no longer the ones that change top-down, or where innovation is expected only from certain people or roles.
Winning teams build change agility into the heart of their culture.
That’s why change leadership is no longer just something you do. It’s a large part of who you are. And that means building “change muscle memory” in yourself and your teams. These five everyday practices are a great way to start.
Adapted from a Harvard Business Review article