The key to creating a change-ready culture

If the last year has taught us anything, it is that an organisation’s ability to change is business-critical. Successful change is only possible if your people are ready, willing and able to change.

Leaders forget that change is all about people: not business models, not balance sheets, not systems or processes. People.

Leadership today is all about leading change. Successful leaders do one special thing that the majority of their peers fail to do, they help their people to want to change.

The key to creating a change-ready culture is enabling your people to accept uncertainty and embrace change

There are five steps to creating a change-ready culture in your business:

  1. Give your people the clarity they deserve. Your people need complete clarity about what you are seeking to achieve, why they need to change and why success is possible. Your people also need you to re-affirm your strategic fundamentals – why your organisation exists, who it exists to serve, what makes you special and what gives you the right to succeed. Without this clarity, they will be lost and resistant to change.
  2. Build an extraordinary leadership team. Culture starts at the top. No business can afford weak links or a dysfunctional collection of individuals at the helm. You will need a genuinely collaborative team built on trust and respect; delivering shared objectives together. You will also need leaders who empower their staff and develop more leaders throughout the organisation.
  3. Ensure your leaders can lead change. The single key leadership skill for leaders at all levels is the ability to lead change. If you are not leading change, you are not leading anything; you are just managing the status quo – an option that no longer exists.

In my Leading Change workshops and webinars, we explore why change fails and the essential ingredients for successful change, and it all boils down to leadership. Leadership today is about helping your people to want to change.

Give your people the skills to embrace change

The success of your business depends upon the ability of your people to accept uncertainty and embrace change. They must be equipped with the skills and mindset they need to accept change and thrive. Enable them to realise:

  • Change is inevitable and constant. It is not a project or a one-off, nor is it temporary. It is a part of life which we must learn to accept and anticipate.
  • Their emotional response to change is OK. We all feel powerful emotions when confronted with major change – and this is completely normal.
  • We all have the power to overcome our barriers to change. Each of us erects our own unique barriers to change. But we can learn to detach from our negative thoughts, observe our emotions, reframe the way we look at life’s challenges, confront our fears – and accept change.
  • Everyone can become their own change leader. The power to change lies within us. We need to pick ourselves up and ask ourselves the magic question, “So, what am I going to do about it?”
  • Don’t let bureaucracy get in the way. Make sure your HR policies, management processes, incentives, financial rules and communications are all re-designed to support change. Encourage informed risk-taking and innovation; enable people to try, fail and learn from the experience; and celebrate successful change.

The power to accept and embrace change is one of the most important gifts you can give your people – for success at work and in life. The future success of your business also depends upon the ability of your people to accept uncertainty, harness change and make it work…for everyone.