Blog · Sep 20, 2015

How to Prepare for Change – 3 Essential Steps

Essential guidance – change

There are many resources and tactics for managing organisational change. How we think about change, and the words we use when we talk about it, have a huge impact on whether particular change will happen successfully – or not.

Before any change begins, it is critical that you convince other people and, even more importantly, yourself, that the change is necessary. This has a multiplier effect and makes many of the other change strategies that Harriet and I wrote about in Will It Make The Boat Go Faster? easier to implement and far more powerful in the long run.

Step One – Reflection & Consideration

When you are considering how to prepare for change, take time out to reflect on the following questions about yourself. Answer them as honestly as possible. Truthful answers will give you the understanding of yourself and your present situation that you will need , if you are to implement change effectively. The questions are:

  • How am I feeling?
  • What am I thinking?
  • What am I worried about?
  • If I were to sum up the other people involved in this change, how would I sum them up?
  • What am I actually doing right now (i.e. stick to the facts, not the interpretation)?
  • What is the positive intention behind my actions?

Step Two – Understanding the Team

In many cases, it won’t just be you that has to embrace change. Many of us will have to have to encourage others to embrace change or have change thrust upon us by somebody else. Creating a high performing team that is prepared to embrace change isn’t something you can achieve overnight, but a powerful starting point is to put yourself in the shoes of others. Consider the questions in step one, from their perspective. How will they be feeling about the change? What worries and concerns will be bothering them?

Similarly, if somebody else is requiring you to change, take the time to step back and consider the situation from their point of view. What positive intentions are driving them to make this change? How are they feeling about it and what fears do they have?

The third of the Will It Make The Boat Go Faster? Performance Principles is ‘nobody does it alone’. This is just as true when you’re considering how to prepare for change. Stop and consider the feelings of others and how they can help you to implement change successfully.

Step Three – Consider the outsider’s perspective

In Will It Make The Boat Go Faster? Harriet and I introduced the concept of Basils and Pauls. Basils are the people who fill rooms with negativity and constantly tell you that something can’t be done. Pauls are the very opposite – the cheerleaders who will support you, but give their honest opinion when it is necessary and helpful.

Step 3 is actually a two-part process. Firstly, try and consider what a neutral observer would say about the two sets of answers you’ve already given. What patterns and trends would they spot? What would they be able to tell you that you haven’t considered?

Then consider what one of the Pauls in your life would say about the answers. Would they be entirely supportive or would there be small adjustments that they’d encourage you to make? How will your thoughts and feelings impact the changes that you are hoping to make?

Change Management

Finally, it’s crucial to stop and consider what you have learned from this exercise – and to take actions to implement these changes. There’s no point in doing any exercise in change management if the resulting implementation doesn’t make you more likely to succeed in implementing change.

We regularly cover other strategies to help with performance improvement in our fortnightly Performance Insights updates for entrepreneurial business leaders.  Alternatively, if you’re currently working to implement change in your company and would like some support in doing so then don’t hesitate to contact us. We’d be delighted to discuss the support we can provide and to share our performance programme case studies.

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