As I watched the Sochi Olympics I was reminded of the importance of a good start. Races are not won at the start but they sure can be lost by a poor start. The same holds true for leading change. I have been called in to help leaders who are struggling with a change initiative and what we often discover is that they are focusing their energy on the wrong issue. They are training their people when what is needed is clear communication, or they are holding team meetings and exploring cultural issues instead of clearly defining short-term goals.
As a leader you are busy and need to put your energy into the right place to get a strong start to your change initiative. A change readiness assessment can help you create a clear picture of your current state and start you and your team moving towards your desired future state. Change readiness measures the technical and cultural factors that influence the speed and sustainability of any change implementation. Once you understand more about your current state of change readiness you can be more strategic using the elements of successful change. (see our post describing the elements here)
To help you get your change off to a strong start I want to share two resources that I have used during change initiatives. The first one provides a broad view of both the technical and cultural components of change readiness. It was created by Procsi Inc. (click here to open resource in a new window) and is based on their ADKAR model of change. The second assessment is by William Bridges & Associates (click here to open resource in a new window). The Bridges change readiness assessment highlights the cultural side of change and helps identify what your people need to get to the start line of the change and where you need to focus your change management actions.
What you learn about the change readiness of your people and your organization will help you utilize the overall elements of successful change and get a clean fast start.
Think back to any change you have experienced or led. What made it real? Actual new behavior! While we need to address the hearts and minds of the people on our teams and ourselves, we never know if a change has occurred until we can see different behaviors. In my old tech days we would say, what you see is what you get or
In other words, to make it real, successful change requires the implementation and demonstration of desired new behaviors. The first element of change leadership is to assess the current state and how it is different from your desired future state. This gap analysis will drive your strategy for change and the successful demonstration of the desired new behaviors.
The Implementation Institute, a change management firm, highlights five organizational elements to include in your gap analysis:
- Organizational Strategy or Mission
- The Formal & Informal Systems of How Work Gets Done
- Your Organizational Structure and Hierarchy
- The Talent in Your Organization
- Your Organizational Culture or The Way Work Gets Done
Working with the people you lead to clearly describe where your team or institution is on each element (current state) and where you need to go (future state) will start to make the change real and provide a solid foundation for the work required to actually change behaviors.
Thinking about your crucial changes ahead, do you clearly know what your current state is? Equally importantly, do the people on your team?
I just returned from the international American Society for Training and Development conference (ASTD-ICE) and my head is full of ideas and information! There were hundreds of breakout sessions and the Expo was filled with vendors and resources. It reminded me of the onslaught of information and the demands a leader faces each day at work. With that in mind, I spent some time looking for practical ideas on trust and leadership that I could share with you that are clear, concise and easy to try. I think I succeeded!
Ken Blanchard, Cynthia Olmstead and Martha Lawrence have a new book titled, Trust Works! that defines four attributes of trust, the A, B, C and D of trust:
Able – can you do your job and do you get results?
Believable – do you demonstrate integrity?
Connected – do you develop sincere two-way relationships with people?
Dependable – do you walk your talk and follow-through?
What I found most valuable were the behavioral descriptions they provide for each attribute. Building trust is all about action and interaction with people. The behavioral descriptions make it easier to look at our own interactions, with an unbiased eye, to assess how we are doing building trust. To help get started, here is a link to their website and a short self-assessment you can take to identify your demonstrated trust-building strengths and opportunity areas – ABCD self-assessment
I learned I have some work to do in the connection domain. As an introvert it is my most challenging area and I can often overlook it and miss the impact it has on the relationships I have at work.
Give the assessment a try. I bet the results will help you identify your trust-building strengths and remind you of potential blind spots or trust busters! As leaders, we need all four attributes to build trust with our people.
Knowing others is intelligence; knowing yourself is true wisdom. – Tao Te Ching
How do you truly know yourself and your impact on those you lead? In her last blog, Dee Anne talked about using various assessments to increase your self-awareness. I’ve found that seeking feedback from colleagues is also a powerful tool to increasing your leadership effectiveness and can provide a helpful complement to information you learn from assessments.
I often ask direct reports: “What can I do to support your success?” or colleagues, “What can I do to make sure our working relationship goes smoothly?” Or bosses, “How did that (meeting, presentation, fill in the blank) go and how can I improve?”
What I’ve learned as a result has been both helpful and humbling. Several years ago, I took an online 360 survey developed by Stephen M.R. Covey on how adept I am at building trust with others. You can find it at: http://whotrustsyou.com/
After asking several colleagues to take the survey and reviewing my results, I went to each colleague and thanked them for their feedback. I also asked for further feedback by saying, “I appreciate our working relationship and want to know how I can increase your trust and confidence in me.” One brave colleague shared that he appreciated working with me, but that he had heard that I had spoken negatively about his team’s performance in a meeting. It had hurt him. He said that he expected that I would discuss something like that with him before speaking with others. Ouch! That was hard to hear. It took me a few moments to breathe, gather my thoughts, and apologize. It also was helpful feedback that made me reflect and examine how I might be eroding trust with others. You can be sure that I worked hard to regain his trust.
When seeking feedback, I’ve learned to invite candid responses, listen attentively, do everything I can to reduce my natural defenses, and be open to seeing from another perspective. It’s not easy, and I think I’m still learning.
Seeking feedback can make you feel vulnerable and expose weaknesses you weren’t aware of; it can also affirm strengths that you have and give you signals about what you are doing that is working well.
What advice do you have for others when seeking feedback?