The need for change – How to take your team back to the drawing board

June 1, 2021 | Category: Leadership

Since the start of the pandemic, Covid-19 vaccinations have been approved for use in the UK. In normal circumstances this process would take at least five years.

Why do I mention this? Vaccination development is just one example of the way the pandemic has made instant change possible. When the pandemic hit, whole workforces transitioned to working or teaching online – forcing companies to quickly prioritise skill building.

Covid-19 continues to be a visible threat, uniting teams and giving them the motivation to say, “we need to do something different.” Whether you’re taking your whole company or an individual team back to the drawing board, this is an important concept to grasp. Identifying your common enemy, your  burning platform moment, will allow you to build a powerful rationale for change.

Build a case for change in three steps

1. What’s your current state?

Take some time to recognise how you’re doing at the moment, what’s working well and what’s not. This will allow you to identify factors affecting your current performance.

2. What do you want your future state to be?

What does future success look like, what do your current and future stake holders need? Document your goals in three to five aspirational statements, which can be clearly read and understood by your whole team.

3. The solution

Create a visible route map, demonstrating how your aspirations, your future state, can be achieved. This should be carefully communicated to all stakeholders, helping people to understand why you’re changing, how you’re going to get there and what progress looks like.

Responding to resistance

As humans, we are hardwired to resist change. A report from the CIPD titled ‘Neuroscience in Action’ suggests that this is designed to keep us safe. Deviating from the norm means overriding “the brain’s tried and tested modes of operating.”

Therefore, ask yourself where the disagreement lies.

1. With your current and future state

Do others agree with your assessment of the current state and future aspiration? Be sure that you have this right, and that you are basing your plans on an agreed principle for change.

2. With your solution

Are there concerns about reaching your end-goal? Think about whether your route is easy to understand, and whether you have invested the time needed to explain this.
Success relies on everyone knowing their -role in contributing to successful change. When you make changes, check that the thing you perceive to be your biggest threat is recognisable and visible to others too.

Adaptability is key

The ability to think creatively, to respond to market changes or consumer habits, has been key to enabling organisations to operate successfully during the Covid-19 pandemic. In PwC’s 24th Annual CEO Survey, 62 per cent of UK CEOs said a “skilled, educated and adaptable workforce” should be a “business priority”.

If you’re heading back to the drawing board, you’ll need leaders able to role model change at every organisational level. Teams do not have to build the vision, but they do have to engage with it, to road test it, and ultimately understand it. The ability to shift focus is paramount.

Without a flexible mindset, people may struggle with a loss of control over what they understand. Fear of change can lead individuals or teams to avoid things – a choice which affects competence and in turn, confidence in their own abilities.

Increase your chance of success

During extraordinary times, it is tempting for leaders to take a top-down approach – insisting on emergency measures to regain control. Dr Luke Kemp, a research associate at the University of Cambridge, calls this the “stomp reflex.” However, if you can build a case for change, which is recognised and understood, your percentage chance for success increases. Taking time to forge that common enemy, which motivates others to fully engage with future plans, will be highly worthwhile

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