Building change capability

When you and your people are impatient for change, it’s tempting to put a programme in place to build skills fast.

But stand back for a moment and work on what you already have in place.  The chances are that people will respond to your call for urgent action if you encourage them to draw on what they know.  Use reward and recognition to build their confidence, capability and momentum.

1. Don’t tell them how to manage change – let them work it out for themselves

Everyone has been through change at some point – moving house, getting married, setting up a darts team or a hobby business. Help people translate what they did outside work into what’s needed inside work. Talk them through the planning they did, the resistance they faced from family members or friends, how they worked out what needed to get done and who to keep informed. And most importantly, how they kept going in pursuit of their goal.

2. Don’t give them an approach – give them some tools

You might be thinking of putting your change agents through a training programme to equip them for the road ahead. But the best way to learn is through experience. Build the story of how the journey unfolds by giving them some tools to use when they need them. Help them write down or draw how the end goal will excite their colleagues. Take them through a workshop exercise to explore what people will see that changes, and understand how that may make them feel. Use post-its on a wall to plan how to deliver the goal and respond to the concerns. Coach them to use their instinct, and keep in touch so that they know they have a peer network to help them.

3. Don’t make people become a change champion – invite them to volunteer

People learn when they want to learn.  Celebrating success and the excitement of being involved will entice more people into the fold, but you’ll kill your change if you mandate people to ‘champion’ it.  Watch out for the ‘resistors’ and find ways to understand their point of view so that you demonstrate open-mindedness and let people make up their own minds on how to get involved.

4. Don’t control your network – but let it flourish.

Leading change can be a lonely business. Find ways to connect people on social media, in person, on email. Sharing stories and ideas across organisations large and small makes the change real for people and lets genuinely strong ideas spread like a germ. Encourage local groups to work together on an idea. Get your change leaders together for an honest appraisal of where they are and help them to build trust in each other as they grapple with the challenges.

Celebrate every success and build confidence.

Every small success is a result of someone’s hard work, and recognition for these achievements can move mountains. Confidence drives people to have another go, take one step further, be that bit bolder – and builds change capability that is deep-rooted and sustainable.