change ahead

People don’t like change. We feel a sense of unease when we have to do something new, something different. In the morning, I park my car in the same area, every day. If I can’t find a spot in that area, it bothers me.

If something as small as changing our parking spot bothers us, think about how we react to a huge change to our jobs. In IT, take Agile adoption for example. People who worked in silos for years, are suddenly sitting side by side. Interacting near team members, and transparency of work, is completely new for them.  It’s not hard to see why a change like this will cause some resistance.

Aside from people not liking change, there are other forces that make change difficult. This is why it’s so important to have a change plan. If you have a good change plan you can overcome the resistance.  Below is a list of 10 tactics that will help you be successful.

Build a Coalition of Support – You have to build a coalition of support for your change effort. Treat it like you are campaigning for office. Talk to people, especially those with influence, and get their buy in for the change. The more people you have supporting the effort, the better things will go.

Create a sense of urgency – You have to create a sense of urgency to get things moving. If people don’t think the change is an urgent need, everything will slow down and eventually grind to a halt. One effective way for creating a sense of urgency is providing data to back up the change need.

Over communicate daily – Under communication is one of the biggest reasons change efforts fail. Come up with creative ways to communicate, and do it on a daily basis. It may feel like you are communicating too much, but you’re not. Use email, web and blog posts, videos, presentations and other creative methods.

Get CEO’s public support – The CEO has less influence on change efforts than you may think. But, it still helps to get the CEO’s public support. (this doesn’t have to be the CEO, it may be a director or VP).

Conduct Private Interviews, particularly with resistors – Meet with people privately to get their support. Talk to the resistors and try to connect with them on a personal level. If you’re faced with someone who is adamant about not supporting the change, go around them. Don’t waste time trying to convert someone who is difficult. Instead, get them out of the way. Check out John Kotter’s video here on dealing with resistors.

Hold Town Halls – Give presentations at Town Halls or All Hands meetings. When presenting, deliver your message in a story format. Tell people why the change is happening, and how it will benefit them and the company.

Recognize Early Adopters – Recognize early adopters, tell them they are doing a great job. People get motivated when they are recongnized. The recognition also provides incentives for others to start adopting the change.

Announce Goals and Deadlines – Set a goal so people align on what you’re trying to do. Back to my Agile adoption example, a goal might be something like the following: In 6 months, a cross functional Scrum team will deliver software in two week iterations. All team members will go through training and be Agile certified.

Tell a ‘success’ story – It’s important to promote success stories. If one team has adopted the change, promote their success to the organization. You can do this in a variety of ways of communication. One fun way of promoting a success story is through the use of video.

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