Being a change leader is hard. Goals, plans, measurement, and strategy clutter your desk and require way more energy than you thought. However, while you are going through a great deal in leading the change, your employees and members are looking to you for what is next.
The human element. It is what gives your organization a personality. Without humans, we would all be dealing with frustrating robots on the phone instead of your helpful, kind customer service representatives. Without humans, your organization would not have passion or heart.
Change requires catering to the humans who make your organization go round. Executive Coach Christina Colton, PhD, says,
“In my years of experience as an executive coach and leadership specialist, I’ve observed and facilitated change initiatives in Fortune 500 companies and small businesses alike. Across the board, I’ve found that the most successful leaders share one key trait: the ability to build trust and confidence during times of change by placing the human factor of transformation first.”
So, with everything you must deal with as a leader, how can you implement practices that help you and the fellow humans in your organization do better?
- Remove barriers that keep people from you. This may be hard, particularly if you are working remotely — but think through how you can make yourself as available as you possibly can, explains the Association for Talent Development. This may look like creating a Zoom room every week that people can join to ask you questions, voice their concerns or share ideas. Each member and employee has their own view of the organization, and every perspective you can get will make your organization that much more valuable.
- Be careful with technology. Obviously, in an increasingly technical world, we are eager to make our services more automated and tech-forward. However, this must be balanced with what gives your organization its heart. When thinking through how you are creating change, make sure that your tech updates do not wash out personalized customer service and creativity.
- Channel your inner coach. The old “lead from behind” idea rings so true in times of rapid change. Invest time in training to make sure everyone is on the same page and can operate properly as a team. The Information Services Group explains that this step is crucial in making your team feel confident about their place in the change. Change cannot happen if your employees do not know what they are supposed to do differently.
- Take care of your people. Change is exhausting. Make it fun by hosting virtual game nights, sending them small gifts like coffee gift cards “just because,” or sending them personal messages just to ask how they are doing. Anything you can do to support your employees will help them know that you are behind them in what is likely a stressful time.
Implementing change — especially across an association that must meet the needs of its members, its staff and other stakeholders — is a challenging process. By keeping a focus on human factors, association leaders can help ease the transition and ensure success.