Top tips to navigate uncertainty and change
As turmoil surrounds us, uncertainty is the only certainty. The complexity of change and its potential impact are gaining pace every day. Today’s uncertainty will become tomorrow’s history.
2021 Edelman Trust states that “business becomes the only trusted institution. When the government is absent, people clearly expect business to step in and fill the void, and the high expectations of business to address and solve today’s challenges has never been more apparent. The heightened expectations of business bring CEOs new demands to focus on societal engagement with the same rigor, thoughtfulness, and energy used to deliver on profits.”
As we struggle to understand how national and global change affects us personally. As we try to keep up with the impact that change will have on the business/organisation that we lead, how much attention do we give to the needs of our people? Those who work for us have an added expectation…that at work they will receive clarity.
Consider your approach to managing change in your business.
For each of the three areas in the diagram below, answer the following:
In our experience, to increase productivity, most companies invest their time, energy and budget in technology and processes, when the reality is:
Your people, grow your business
If your people are struggling to understand how change is affecting the business they work in, it can be the tipping point for those who are overwhelmed when everything in their life appears to be out of control. A lack of communication from leaders, creates speculation and assumptions to fill the gap. Some may choose to leave. Others may share their uncertainty with your customers (who are also the people who grow your business, through their loyalty and recommendations).
It is often your staff who have the solutions to grow your business. Engaged, loyal staff will work with leaders to help the business navigate and respond to change. First they need to understand the impact that uncertainty is having on the business, have the opportunity to contribute and know what is expected of them.
We have identified Top Tips for you, to achieve highly productive change:
Leaders lead – people need to understand how uncertainty is affecting the business. If not commercially sensitive, they need to understand the good, the bad and the ugly. Unless they understand the impact, they are unable to engage in contributing to and adapting to the changes needed.
Start with the purpose – describe the need for change, in a way that energises your people to want to contribute to making it happen. All communication and decisions that follow have to underpin and mirror this statement.
Followership – your people follow your leadership, they copy what you do and how you behave. Identify what you need to be doing differently and how you need to adapt your individual and collective leadership behaviours to demonstrate your own commitment and ability to change. This must include what you do (your actions) and how you do it (your behaviours).
Managers manage – it is your managers who have to respond to the changing needs of your business and the reactions from their people and customers. What support do they need to be able to adapt to the changes so that they and their staff continue to deliver business results?
Communicate, communicate, communicate – communication can be a cancer or a catalyst for change. Too little and people create their own version of reality. Their reality is often worse than reality itself. Lack of information and clarity fuels high levels of negative conversations and wasted time. At worst this can lead to key staff leaving the business and problems attracting and recruiting talent.
Be open and honest in your communication. Create opportunities for two way face to face communication so that people can ask questions, to clarify and really understand what is happening and how they and your business need to adapt to grow.
Involve, involve, involve – your staff have the solutions to your challenges and opportunities. Create an environment that trusts them to develop the right solutions to achieve the changes needed. This is an environment that encourages staff to take risks and innovate, in the knowledge that they will be supported. An environment where mistakes are an opportunity to share and learn.
Line of sight – create a line of sight that sets clear expectations for everyone. This must include what they do (their actions) and how they do it (their behaviours). Set clear objectives that are defined, agreed and reviewed with each team member during regular 121 catch ups. Equip managers to support their teams and hold staff to account. Invest time in developing individuals to achieve their work and personal goals.
Feedback – equip everyone with the skills to provide effective feedback. Feedback that is underpinned with the intention to help the other person improve. This has to include both what they do (their actions) and how they do it (their behaviours).
Alignment – identify the priority changes needed to align people, technology and processes to embed your changes and deliver business benefits.
Example: how does recruitment and reward need to change to attract and retain people with the right skills and attitude?