Change is not a singular event, it’s a process. It takes time. And we don't all move through it at the same pace.
In the workplace, those seasons when spirits are low - slumps even - are to be expected, and they can often coincide with seasons of change. Change can have us feeling worried, overwhelmed, or tired - it can leave us feeling too drained to push through. We all need a little extra encouragement sometimes.
As a leader, you're in an excellent position to help provide what your team may need. So, recognizing when change is causing the slump and learning to pick up the pace (or pick up the team) can help us all get energized towards better workdays again.
Finding ways to motivate and push your team through the change in a timely manner - because the project can’t slow down even though the team feels like that’s the way to go - can be tricky. Your Clear Next Step is no stranger to change, and we’ve got some answers to questions that may arise, as it relates to leading through change over time.
What if you really don’t know when?
Someone asks when the team will arrive at “B”, but you don’t have a definite answer. Let’s face it, change is uncertain, so it’s no surprise the timeline would be too. We can give general dates or times, but the reality is we can’t know for sure. This is true for any project, really. The answer just seems to matter more when facing change.
One of the best strategies I know of, is to share what you know as of now and when you plan to provide the next update. This gives an answer without solidifying it in stone. The next step is to provide the update when you promise. If the “when” is soon, start moving as if the “when” is soon. Treat that timeline as though it’s been placed on everyone’s calendars and the meeting has already been set. If the when is far away, you can begin to lay groundwork. If you have the time to give more careful thought, utilize it. It could turn out that with all the planning you’ve already put into it, the timeline might just stick.
How long is too long for a tent?
The “tent” this question refers to is involved in Your Clear Next Step’s Change Infographic. If you have not seen this, you can use this link to download it for free. Along the change journey, before you can take hold of “B”, there is a transitional period that takes a lot of hard work, and it takes time. Your team may have to stay in one place for a period of time - you’ll have to set up camp. But how do you make sure the team isn’t there for too long?
Tents are not meant to be permanent structures. They can’t withstand the elements for long periods of time and can become uncomfortable. The team can’t be stuck in one place for too long or the project will never get done and the goal won’t be achieved. So, time box the steps the team needs to take in minutes, days, or hours (not months and years). This is all about creating an actionable timeline that the team can stick to and keep moving forward.
What’s appropriate for celebrating?
Now this is what we’re all here for - it’s the end of the transitional process - the moment the team is stable in “B”. The project is complete, the hard work has paid off, and it’s time to celebrate everyone’s accomplishments! It can be hard to know what’s appropriate for showing appreciation and celebrating the good news. Here are some suggestions:
- Write and deliver personal thank you notes.
- Give out thank you awards or little gifts.
- Organize a pizza party or bring in treats.
- Offer small amounts of flex time off. (This can also help reduce burnout)
- Have names featured in company newsletters.
- Utilize some other internal recognition programs through the company.
- Simply make eye contact and say “Thank you.”
- Lastly, sometimes, it’s as easy as a warm smile.
Bonus: Tools to Minimize Slog
YCNS offers a variety of tools for dealing with change, building motivation, and showing appreciation. Top of our list is the Change Infographic that we discussed before. We also have a Change Ebook, here to help change be a little more manageable. The Prioritization Quick Filter can also help your team decide what to prioritize so they don’t lose time over the wrong things. Lastly, we have a new Appreciation Guide to help understand the best way to show appreciation in the office.
We hope this series of Leading Through Change has been useful to you, and that you feel ready to lead through the change you face. Remember, it's a process, and you can make it to "B" - you can reach the finish line.
What tools do you use to help your team through change? What other things help to keep moving along the transitional process? How have you been leading over time? Let us know in the comments!