Heraclitus, the Greek philosopher once said, “there is nothing permanent except change”.
As a business owner in construction today, this age-old adage still holds true. You can see change occurring everywhere in our profession. From design to construction phases; new techniques, systems and processes are advancing requiring us to adapt or be left behind.
The ability to communicate and lead change is a core competency for a business owner or manager to be successful in leading a company or team. The reality is that too often owners and leaders miss the mark in building a process for change leading to frustration, misunderstanding and lost productivity.
When change is necessary, a leader must consider:
- The necessity of the change
- Implementation process for the change
- Leadership required to move it forward
- Potential resistance
To better understand resistance to change, consider the common reasons people resist change.
o Lack of patience
o Feelings of inadequacy
o Lack of clear plan
o Additional work load
o Not understanding the need for change
o Like the status quo or current activity
o No line of sight to the vision/mission
o Goes against the philosophy or values
o Don’t trust or respect the leadership
o Use of politics or manipulation
o Change isn’t self-initiated
o Little/Poor communication
o Lack of leadership and accountability
o Loss of something
o Not consulted or involved
o Fear - Personal loss, what others may say, etc.
What then are the keys to effectively leading and communicating change in a way that builds followers?
Let me share a compilation of best practices, from personal experience and observing the most successful leaders in construction.
1. Be thinking holistically about the change—don’t be too short sighted or narrow in focus.
2. Be prepared to practice humility and patience – most people don’t see what you may see.
3. Communicate the need for change and how this change fits into organizational mission and goals to individuals and groups.
4. Address the "why" behind the change as much as you talk about the "what" behind the change.
5. Accept reasons for resistance as valid, whether you understand them or not.
6. Plan for a goal of shared consensus.
7. Communicate often and in multiple ways using different forms of communication (in person, email, video, etc.)
8. Keep the message consistent by using exact handout materials and presentation methods.
9. Develop a complete implementation and accountability plan including measures of success.
10. Be prepared to provide necessary training and education for new skills and abilities needed with the change.
11. Utilize others in the company to communicate the change process plan who are change agents (no matter of their title).
12. Understand that failure may occur in early stages of change and staying the course will be necessary.
13. Reward and celebrate new behaviors for those adopting change on constant basis with formal and informal methods.
Change is permanent. As we learned from the Borg in Star Trek, “resistance is futile”. AS a change agent in today’s companies and leaders must learn how to effectively drive change. Using the techniques described above, your ability to be successful increases exponentially.
Bonus Idea. Add creativity and innovation to your company values and everyday culture. Companies and leaders who model these values on a consistent basis will find their companies and teams can more rapidly adapt to change since change is the norm, not the exception.