Change management. Motivating people through change

How to motivate your people through periods of change

Tim Stoller blog

We live in a world where the future is increasingly shrouded in uncertainty. External factors can affect our businesses – Brexit, the results of the US elections and the ambiguity around impending world trade agreements can immediately shift the climate we work in. Recent evidence suggests there will be more change and shockwaves to our businesses over the next five years than there have been in the previous five.

It is not only external factors that can cause organisational turbulence – mergers and acquisitions, senior appointments, cutbacks and relocations will impact on your organisation and its people too. Business leaders need to effectively guide staff through periods of change to keep them engaged, motivated and able to deal with change.

The problem with traditional methods

When a change occurs, we often take the time to speak to our people to get an indication of how they are feeling. When we do this, we naturally filter information through our own experiences; therefore, our conclusions and subsequent action plans risk being skewed. Consequently, we only see part of the picture – which can lead to narrow and one dimensional action plans. Some people will follow our lead, but it’s unlikely everyone will be on-board.

Bearing in mind the time it takes to have the conversations, consolidate thoughts, build a report, create an action plan, then communicate and execute it all – the process can last for weeks. Think of the amount of time and energy to build a potentially one-eyed view.

When a senior leader joins a new company, they will generally receive all the necessary information to be able to immediately understand a company’s financial performance. They will know the P&L inside out and will be starting to devise strategies and action plans off the back off it.

Why shouldn’t we expect the same detailed insight on our people, culture, vision, leadership and engagement too?

Introducing the “2nd P&L”

The 2nd P&L is a measurement of your businesses’ greatest asset – its “People and Leaders.”

By implementing regular pulse surveys to help you gauge the 2nd P&L of your business, and combining the insights with the traditional P&L – you will get a staff–centred view of your entire organisation.

This insight will aid your ability to analyse your business culture and engagement – whilst helping you to manage organisational change more effectively. You can still do the meet and greet; but now it will be more focused on action and ideas, rather than fact–finding.

There are 5 key areas which will further ensure that you keep your staff motivated through periods of change:

Vision

Think of your staff as a ship and your company’s vision as the compass. Without a compass to guide your ship, it may drift aimlessly.

A clear vision provides your people with guidance and clarity around the company’s long–term goals. When people believe in the company vision, they are more likely to be motivated to be part of the change during tough times.

Having universal clarity on your organisational vision provides a constant source of guidance and motivation – it will also create cultural alignment in the process.

Feedback

It is essential to gather regular feedback to have an accurate snapshot in time to help measure how your people are feeling.

Even if you don’t agree with the feedback, to successfully motivate teams through change you should accept that whatever they tell you is their reality and take it seriously.

Don’t challenge how someone feels, or reprimand them for having conflicting views to others. Make efforts to understand, recognise and accept – then you will be in a stronger position to take appropriate action and keep your people motivated. This will help you effectively remedy concerns and build on successes.

Communication

If your people think of you as nothing more than an enigmatic name at the top of an email – then how do you expect to motivate them?

Effective communication with your people is never more important than in today’s connected world and workforce. Two–way communication means receiving feedback and sharing your thoughts, plans, ideas and inspiration openly. This helps your team feel valued, engaged and ultimately motivated. Talk to your people regularly and create systems for everyone to be able to contact you. Encourage the freedom to co–create these systems, as this will instil trust both ways.

Everyone has varying preferences when it comes to communication. Learn what works best for you, and your teams. Finally, keep everyone up to date with progress, accomplishments, next steps and future targets. A clear and open view will motivate everyone to succeed.

Identifying role models

It can be easy to burden yourself with all the responsibility to lead your team through a period of change. Instead, think about identifying others as great role models too. The load can then be shared and more people will feel empowered – it will help to build momentum too.

Many people relish the opportunity that change provides and are inherently positive when faced with new obstacles. Find these characters and position them as fellow role models and motivators. They shouldn’t just be your most senior people; in fact, your most senior people may be the most resistant to change. A broader spread can give greater impetus when leading your people through periods of change.

Leadership & Guidance

Change management theory tells us that people go through the process at their own pace. Regular pulse surveys linked to our “Organisational Change Curve”, will help you to determine what stage your people are at:

 The Happiness Index's organisational change curveUse this graph as an indicator of how your people are coping – it makes it easier to create relevant action plans. Understanding where people are in this process, will help you to lead them more quickly, and at a pace that everyone can sustain.

Using real-time feedback and insights to understand, is the most robust way to manage change efficiently and effectively.

Tim Stoller
Tim has extensive experience in Sales, Marketing, and Insight across the Media and Food & Drink. He spent 7 years at the BBC leading the strategic and marketing direction of Radio 5 Live and launching new digital radio stations. He spent 8 years running business units and commercial teams at Innocent Drinks, Lindt & Sprungli, and Hovis. Since then, he has helped smaller companies create and implement fast growth commercial plans.

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