Over the past 12 months I had the great opportunity to work on a major change initiative. What was great is that I was put in a role where I had to be 100 % proactive. I had no direct scope and no direct reports. It was a role which allowed me to establish my own vision, my own direction and then work proactively towards the outcome. I had to learn to influence rather than have any direct authority, and work through others to elicit change. This was a big shift coming off a role where I had my own team, and a lot of direct influence.
I learnt a couple of things from this experience:
- Success comes through how you get others to do your work for you. You need to engage with others and sell them the benefits so they drive the change on your behalf to create a momentum. Identify your allies, evangelists, and opponents and strategically work with them as the journey progresses.
- Be patient as change takes time. Don’t feel like you need to be out communicating for the sake of it.
- The change process is not perfect. You make 2 steps forward, 1 step back and 3 steps sideways.
- Be methodical and have a clear plan, but also adaptable and flexible to jump on an opportunity or re-strategise as you go.
- Be in touch with your audience. Being a change management expert or communications expert is not enough. You also need to understand the business and have the ability to read people.
- Link everything back to core business. If you can’t do this, then people won’t see the value in what you are doing.
- Focus on the why not just the how and the what.
- How you use your non-productive time is just as important as how you use your productive time. During quiet stages of the project ensure you set yourself up well for the busy periods.
- Don’t be a mega blaster. Overloading communications, and blasting out messages is an easy option but it creates overload and over hypes the change. Don’t be selfish in making your project everyone else’s number 1 priority. Recognise they have their day jobs and normal priorities. Your communications strategy needs to be well thought through, well timed, and to the point.
- Don’t assume.
- Ensure everyone on the project is clear on expectations and role clarity upfront. Under the pressure of deadlines it is easy to just jump in and ‘get on with it’ but if people don’t understand their expectations and the roles of others in the team a lot of energy gets wasted.
- You need to be resilient and persistent. Don’t think it will be easy and don’t expect to be congratulated on every step of the journey. People will resist change at one point and embrace at other points. It is a rollercoaster but stay on the course.