Change is hard. But what may be even harder is managing that change. Managers face a slew of complaints, concerns, and more when changes are implemented. However, it doesn't need to be a nightmare. Here's my secret to addressing the top complaints you'll hear when change is coming and how to avoid headaches down the road.
1. But that's the way we've always done it!
Lord, this complaint is one of my biggest pet peeves. Change is a good thing- otherwise women wouldn't have the right to vote, alcohol would still be illegal, and your cell phone wouldn't exist! While I certainly don't advocate change simply for change's own sake, it's important to grow and develop to avoid becoming obsolete. When met with this objection, I like to make sure that I'm being completely transparent about why the change is taking place. Many employees may not normally be given the reason for change- they're just told that change is happening, end of story. By explaining the reasoning, you allow them to become invested in the change and see the benefits, especially ways that the change will benefit them as employees. Now, some employees will dig their heels in just for the sake of being contrary. However, for most reasonable employees, if the change is soundly based in logic, simply explaining why can be enough to dispel this objection.
2. We don't have time for that
Often, implementing change involves a workload that's higher than normal. However, any good project manager will have a plan in place to address this. Determine what projects or tasks may need to be pushed back to accommodate this. Get feedback from your team members so that you can make them feel valued and get a realistic understanding of how the change will affect their workload. Consider bringing in a temp during the transitional period. Then, communicate this all to your team upfront.
3. We tried that before and it didn't work
For long-time employees, this can be a common and reasonable concern. If they've seen time wasted on an initiative in the past, why why it be any different this time? This is why its important that prior to implement change you look at the history of the organization and get feedback from employees. If its been a failed attempt in the past, why did it fail? What are you going to do that's different? Then, communicate this to your staff up front.
Seeing a theme here? The best way to avoid objection and push back is clear and early communicate. By gathering feedback from your staff, they feel invested in the success of the project. Addressing their objections up front allows you to both get their buy in and address any roadblocks that you may have not anticipated.
Now, go forth and make that change happen!
I was reading an article by Chris Ferguson today when a line caught me. He remarks "leadership is about discerning what should and should not be changed." In looking at my own journey as a leader, I think my own failings have mainly been not in the things I've neglected to do, but in what I did that wasn't necessary. I'm a creative thinker who's brain is always buzzing with new ideas and new things I want to try. When I get bored, I seek out problems to solve. However, sometimes there just isn't anything going wrong at the moment. It's in those situations that I end up redesigning things simply to redesign them, even though they were perfectly fine to start with and perhaps better than before I began tinkering.
This tendency is frequently referred to as "shiny object syndrome"- I have a need to chase new goals and ideas rather than stay the course and continue down the path I'm on. I've started and gotten board of at least a dozen businesses. I've re-written the SOP's at my day job more times than I can count. So for my own development, I'm proposing a new idea- static leadership.
We've all heard of dynamic leadership. This can be a great thing- many organizations need new ideas and big overhauls. But once the dust dies down and the course is straight, that's when static leadership comes into play. A good leader learns to recognise when things are going well and stay the course rather than continuing to seek out exciting nw projects that the company isn't ready for yet. Maybe a controversial idea- shouldn't leaders be visionaries, constantly on to the next big thing? I say no. A good leader recognises what the company needs and gives them that. That's true leadership.
In a nutshell, emotional intelligence is your ability to recognize your own feelings, as well as how others feel, and then manage these emotions. Now, if you're like me, emotions are to be avoided in the workplace. It would be great if everyone could just do their job and go home. However, it's important to remember that your employees are people, not just capital. Emotional intelligence helps us to recognize this and adapt our behavior accordingly.
So how do you develop emotional intelligence? That's a class in itself. However, here's some basic tips to get started.
1. Know Thyself
The first step is to get to know your own personality and tendencies. You can't be aware of how you interact with others if you're not self-aware. I'm a big fan of personality assessments- with a grain of salt of course. You can't put people into nice, neat categories. However, these assessments can give you an idea of your basic tendencies. I enjoy Meyer-Briggs (I'm an INTJ) and Wired That Way (I'm a powerful with perfect tendencies). You can find free versions of these online.
2. Be Aware of Others
Once you're aware of yourself, start observing how others in your workplace behave. Maybe your admin responds well to being praised publicly, but your introverted IT guy would rather you CC his boss on an email thanking him. As you get to know others, you can modify your behavior to best relate to them and create a harmonious workplace.
3. Don't Stop Growing
Pick one area to grow your emotional intelligence and go from there. I recommend starting with a book on the topic- Daniel Goleman's text is the classic recommendation, but it can be a bit dry, so I like The Emotional Intelligence Quickbook to start. Find one area for growth and start there, then slowly add more goals.
It’s exciting when you become a manager. More pay, a bigger office, the feeling of being recognized. But with great power comes great responsibility. And one of those responsibilities is having conversations with your employees that are less than pleasant. Whether it be asking why a project wasn’t completed, putting a long time employee on a PIP, or even firing your staff member, managers need to handle these conversations professionally and with tact.
So what’s a new manager to do? Here are my top 3 tips for having those less than pleasant conversations.
The first time you have to have a hard conversation can be nerve racking. One way to make it easier is to write out talking points ahead of time. You can even discretely have them in the meeting. Note that I said talking points, not a script- that could lead to some awkwardness. Once you have your points, practice what you’re going to say. The first time I fired someone, I rehearsed in the mirror for hours the night before. Make sure you’re clear on what you need to say to help make the conversation easier.
2. Be Direct
There’s nothing worse than having to have the hard conversation again. Many managers water down their message to try and soften the blow. However, this doesn’t serve you well. Employees can’t improve if they don’t clearly understand what the problem is. You could use a compliment sandwich- start with something they’ve been doing well, then clearly state where the improvement is needed. The key here is to be kind, but direct.
3. Remember Their Dignity
Sometimes, it’s easy to get wrapped up in the frustration of poor performance and forget that there’s a person behind the actions. While you certainly need to tackle the issue, it’s important to remember to preserve the dignity of the employee while doing so. That might mean having the conversation in private, not venting to other employees about the issues, or even making sure to fire them at a time where they can pack their desk without others around.