The key to successfully mobilizing people behind change in today’s dynamic world is the ability to communicate and inspire others to adopt new ways of thinking. To shape new behaviors and incite change, you must explore the flaws and strengths within your team’s current realities and provide them with the tools to form new realities.
Here are five ways to inspire others to adopt new ways of thinking and create a truly mobilized team:
Reverse the osmosis process that has shaped the team’s current realities.
Norms and standards are continually reshaped to form a new normal. The healthy competitive edge from constructive contention insidiously erodes as people adapt and conform to their environments and pressure others to do the same.
Osmosis alters us with a gradual yet deliberate process in an effort to create equilibrium. In driving fundamental change, we must create and retain positive tension that leads people to stretch themselves in the pursuit of goals that are beyond their current perceived capabilities and circumstances.
Shatter locked-in and entrenched norms associated with job titles and labels.
Change agendas offer us an opportunity to fundamentally rethink roles and titles. Words are powerful and can invoke very specific interpretations. As you revisit titles, think of inspiring words that you can infuse into them in order to positively motivate employees and affect customers.
For example, a recruitment officer might be called a talent scout; an HR generalist, a culture champion; a receptionist, a leader of first impressions. When you accurately describe your employees’ roles, you will see that titles can favorably influence the behaviors of all concerned.
Capitalize on the power of visual representation in the change journey.
Leaders need to be able to describe their future and the priorities they will highlight to build common understanding and commitment. A powerful technique to strengthen understanding is to create a visual representation of the journey you are undertaking as a team.
A visual representation helps leaders to 1) communicate the journey in the form of a roadmap, 2) clarify the functional and process interdependencies, 3) highlight the contributions of previously undervalued functions, 4) graphically visualize an overview of the undertaking and 5) achieve a sense of ownership at all levels of the organization.
Teach cross-functional workshops that include employees from different functions.
Inject a catalyst to accelerate the demystification and translation of the change agenda into the day-to-day activities of all employees, and use cross-functional workshops to create real ownership and alignment by encouraging your employees to discuss, translate and activate strategies through participative forums.
These workshops are critical to the change process because they start at the top of the organization and systematically cascade down, so that all employees are included. As a result of their participation in cross-functional workshops, employees will understand the priorities from the perspective of their individual departments and roles.
Enable decision authority to maintain the momentum of change.
And finally, enable your team to be successful. Think through the ripple effects of the change you are introducing. Consider the impact on structure, time, skills and resources. Remove barriers and empower people to take action by delegating authority. When you notice their positive actions, seize the chance to recognize progress. Seek out every opportunity to “catch people doing things right.”
Remember, change is often a messy learning journey. Implementing these five ideas can facilitate the process and help you inspire and encourage your team to persevere through the tough growing pains.
Larry Solomon, CEO of Solomon People Solutions, managed waves of fundamental change during his tenure at Cadbury-Schweppes and Dr Pepper Snapple (DPS). An educator at heart, Solomon teaches a post-graduate MBA course on “C-Suite Leadership” at the University of Texas at Dallas. He wrote Translate, Motivate, Activate: A Leader’s Guide to Mobilizing Change (Brown Books Publishing Group) as an educational tool to aid business leaders, HR professionals and MBA students to successfully achieve sustainable corporate change. All of the profits from the sales of this book are donated to My Possibilities, a non-profit, “for-cause” organization and facility that provides full-day, full-year continuing education for disabled Texans who have “aged out” of secondary education. More information can be found at www.mypossibilities.org.