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Heraclitus, the ancient Greek philosopher, said that change is natural and permanent. Nowhere is this saying more alive than in the business world; the history of the creation of an entrepreneur is based on change.
Recently, Frontier Airlines made a change by removing its customer service phone number. This allows customers to seek solutions through digital channels. Thanks to this change, the customer experience will completely change, creating a significant difference in the organization. This approach will allow Frontier Airlines to uncover insights that can inform, validate and challenge its strategy.
Making a bold choice like this can be difficult, which is why many leaders and founders struggle with change.
Related: Would you rather change or let your company die?
Why is change so hard for a growing company?
Many companies insist on leaving transformational leadership in the hands of a small group of senior leaders or change managers, rather than incorporating them into their team’s mission. Maybe it’s because change is so important at the beginning of a venture – a clumsy entrepreneur has to innovate, sell a house and live in a basement. Then the company’s attitude to change changes.
A familiar disappointment for company leaders is the feeling that as they grow, they become slower and slower. The profile of people who start and join a small business is very different from those who join as the business grows and becomes more stable. Stability becomes a preference and inertia an enemy.
The requirements of the development stage of the company can reveal unproductive relationships of individuals to change. These relationships can be divided into three categories. The recipients of the change believe that the change is being made to them. Those who oppose change believe they can wait it out, and change controllers ultimately believe they can plan and manage it. Being big doesn’t have to mean being slow or procrastinating, and entrepreneurs can overcome these unproductive attitudes.
The most sustainable organizations continue to disrupt all stages of growth. The ability to constantly adapt and anticipate changes in the external environment requires leaders ready for change at all levels.
What are the benefits of an organization ready for change?
Companies with change-ready teams can more easily meet and rise above the challenges of their environment than teams that rely on top-down change management. Companies that insist on entrusting change to only a select few leaders are sure to find a lack of change, engagement, diversity, and customer connection. We have already established that change is permanent, and leadership must reflect this in order to have a culture ready for change.
Here’s what distinguishes leaders ready for change:
- They are more involved. They understand that emotional agreement precedes strategic agreement, so they try to gather everyone’s votes.
- They are more flexible. They are open to conflicting views and assumptions of their teams and are able to adapt to the increasing pace of change in the environment.
- They lead with an attitude of reciprocity. They know that diverse teams generate even better ideas that address key threats and ensure that their teams think from the perspective of customers.
Perhaps the most important benefit of developing change-ready team members is that researchers believe that “employee attitudes towards change is a key predictor of the success of organizational change.” People who see change as a constant and necessary source of opportunity are best placed to turn change into a positive force for their organizations.
Related: How to better manage corporate culture in times of change
How can leaders cultivate readiness for change?
Instead of managing change top-down, leaders could discover that a more sustainable way to be ready for change is to involve the whole team. How can leaders start cultivating an attitude of readiness for change among team members? Here is a collection of initial strategies to try:
1. Accept that the change is not linear
Change is dirty. It advances one day and recedes the next. Many leaders operate under the belief that periods of change in their companies are followed by periods of calm or that change will eventually end. This is a misconception; business Is changes, and creating the conditions of readiness for change will be more durable than ad hoc preparations to handle a specific change.
Therefore, leaders should adapt their thinking to changes in their companies. At BTS, we know that change is no longer an individual sport, but a team sport. Instead of a few elite surfers trying to conquer the waves, we see a change more like rafting, where everyone has to work together to get through the waves.
2. Build awareness of your own attitude to change
Before you can successfully guide anyone through change, you must increase your self-awareness of your productive and less productive responses. This starts with a biological reality: although change is coming to us faster and more often than ever before in human history, we are biologically programmed to respond to change as a threat. In the past, threats to our existence were lions, tigers and bears; In today’s changing world, threats are things like looking bad, being wrong, or losing control.
The first step any organization can take to increase readiness for change is to help each leader understand their beliefs about change and offer them new tools and approaches to be more effective. We adopted this approach in the case of a Fortune 200 company that, in anticipation of significant structural changes in the organization, equipped all 50,000 employees with new tools and techniques to build resilience and readiness for change.
Related: 5 key ways to create a culture of innovation
3. Involve your team to take responsibility for the change
Identify the key moments your organization faces when it comes to leading change, and adapt to what behaviors look like ready to change at any moment. Cultivating a team of leaders ready for change will mean committing team members to understanding what change is. Share objectives and outcomes of strategic leadership meetings, giving you time to listen to all perspectives and test different ideas on the frontline. Encourage people to face these challenges themselves in their roles, so that they feel ownership of key moments where changes occur throughout the day.
To support this ownership at the team level, change behavior in the smaller moments that matter most. Support this by creating social networks and support structures that enable a holistic mindset, giving each level and department the opportunity to develop their own readiness for change.
Change is constant, and this is a team sport. No leader or manager can create change alone and expect it to serve the entire organization and the entire world of customers. Sustainable, effective change comes from a collective of people who have a positive attitude towards change: a team of leaders ready to change.