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Blog: Time for change

More than anything else I believe leadership is about making time for people. It’s easy to just go off and do something and that’s one thing, but under the surface people are observing. Their questions and conclusions, right or wrong, can make or break a business. Setting aside time to be available, not always in a formal setting, is very important.

It’s everything from putting myths to bed quickly to addressing gaps in knowledge. Helping people to understand the journey of change. The fact that, looking at productivity, it will fall and then all being well you’ll come out the other side much more productive. Setting that expectation. This is what we’re going through and why we’re going through it. And it will be better on the other side. That helps avoid negative feeling and perpetuate positive attitudes.

People often share their frustrations with each other and that’s a critical source of business intelligence. If you’re taking time to address those concerns individually you can be more certain that change is being perceived in the best possible light. But I think more importantly, it flags real issues that you didn’t anticipate. Even if it’s just anxiety and general queries it can help a project to deliver change in a way that’s closer to reality, closer to our people doing the work, and not closed away in a meeting room.

As I have moved up through the business I’ve transitioned from managing teams that are directly connected to other teams, to running our systems organisation which could be all invisible but for the technology our staff are using every day. Among these people the challenge can have an even greater impact. For example; whilst a solution can be delivered from a prescriptive set of requirements, it will be abundantly more successful if the developers understand the where and why for.

I remember being very focussed on the big picture, the team just didn’t see it, something wasn’t clicking, not connecting. Just making certain to take the time with people can help them understand why we’re going through it. They’re smart enough to work out what the benefits are and how to reach them on their own. The important part is to empower the team by addressing their individual thoughts and feelings.

Bringing people into the loop is important, especially when it’s time for change.

If you haven’t got established forms of communication you might delay making changes as you don’t know how to communicate it. There’s also a sense, a recognition that you need to communicate, but you haven’t worked out how to make the change yet. Finally, you can make the change without communicating it, and then unpick people’s opinions afterwards but there’s more risk in that. Each of these scenarios are unfavourable.

My advice is to keep communicating, even if the message and direction aren’t finalised. Don’t be afraid to go over the same ground a couple of times. Better that people are voicing their frustration at the abundance of opportunities to communicate. Remember that any new change is a project. Every project has a group of stakeholders and interested parties. Keep those people informed, keep the communication channels open.

I know when I’ve done it well. People’s first course of action when they next have a concern isn’t to panic and share with a colleague, it’s to come to me instead straight away. Drop me a line. You can debunk it, or deal with it there and then. The way things are being done and not necessarily, what things are being done. I think that helps.

The second thing is the bigger picture. People can make the right decisions. You want people to come to you with solutions, especially from a development perspective. The more informed they are, the more they’re able to understand the context, become accountable for the outcomes and achieve outstanding results.

Bringing people into the loop is important, especially when it’s time for change.

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