By: Larry Fish, President
I talk about the concept of “change” to my clients in the green industry all the time. Whenever I bring it up, it seems the world becomes divided into 2 groups of people; those who cause change and those who must adapt to the effects of change. Owners of landscape organizations most certainly have all been in one or the other of these groups at some point in our lives.
Those who have traditionally held leadership or management positions are probably more used to causing change. If a good deal of your association with change has been on the “causing change “ side of the ledger, here are some tips to help those who must adapt to your changes get through the transition a little easier.
If you think about it, change really involves moving people from one situation in which they are very comfortable to a new and different situation in which we hope they will accept and become just as comfortable and accepting. Change can best be described as a process. Here’s some definitions and helpful guidance:
- The starting point for a major change is helping the people going through changes to understand there is a real need for the change. Define these needs in clear terms that people can understand. If possible, define the consequences for not making these changes.
- Don’t criticize the old ways of doing things and, by implication, diminish the contributions of the people who were part of the “old way”. This is especially true if you are a manager of a branch or region for one of the major landscape firms who has recently bought a smaller business and inherited key staff.
- Spend time defining for people what the new way will look like and also how they will know when they have successfully made the necessary changes in order to get there. Share lots of information so they can transition to change more easily instead of the old threatening “do it, or else” mantra.
- Look for ways to reinforce and reward the behavior of people who are making genuine efforts to change. Encourage others to do the same.
- Continue to communicate about the change by giving accurate and timely information about what’s going on and who’s doing what. Follow-up to ensure clear understanding and repeat the message if necessary.
- Expect and plan for negative reactions to the change. People will get angry and feel insecure during the process. Sometimes you may even witness this coming from people whom you thought had a clear understanding of the whole picture. Let them get it off their chests – – – then move on from there.
- Look for ways to assign tasks and responsibilities to people so that they feel involved and part of the change process. There is nothing better than to engage those who have thoughtful ideas and can serve as a catalyst for getting the right message out in a positive manner which improves employee retention.
- If people need training to make the change, make sure it is scheduled, attended, and effective in terms of what it promised to deliver. Think through what the desired outcomes are instead of just sending your managers for “a heavy dose of training.”
- Be sensitive to the other needs of people who are going through change, especially things like new equipment, procedures, information and positive reinforcement.
- Demonstrate your own confidence and commitment to the new direction as well as your trust in those who are going through this adjustment period. Show a certain amount of empathy for the current situation, but outwardly display enthusiasm and confidence in the future.
Real change is never a “slam dunk”. It takes time, leadership, attention and concern for the different paces at which people accept and adapt to it. These are a few of the basics to make a little easier for everyone next time.
To learn more about how leadership can manage change, call 1-888-375-7787 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
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