Everyday leaders are tasked with moving their teams closer to the company's goals. Daily firefighting, conflicting priorities, and work itself get in the way.
Effective leaders keep the vision at the forefront of their team's minds but often struggle when changes come rapidly, and in abundance, in order to remain competitive. Change Fatigue can derail even the most seasoned team in the wake of a corporate redirect. We all know you can lead a teammate to the “corporate Kool-Aid” but you can't make him drink. How then does a leader lead the team where they don't necessarily want to go?
- Build Trust: All things being equal, nothing you do as a leader will be effective, for a sustainable piece of time, unless this is done first. Trust is built by taking the time to get to know each employee as an individual, communicating transparently and often. Clear expectations, encouragement, and daily support further build the foundation as does articulating the “why behind” the directive. No one wants to change course without first understanding the why.
- Repeat the Ask: Change leaders need to be prepared to repeat the ask no less than six times or it won't get heard. Repetition increases the importance and reaffirms the value of attention. One email will not do the trick. Utilizing face to face communication, as well as a formal change alert explaining the change in process, will help ensure the message has been received. Daily audits to review the effectiveness of the change, which validates every teammate's understanding, are necessary to keep the team from sliding back into old habits.
- Involve the Key Stakeholders: An inexperienced leader sends directives down the pike without getting the feedback of her team. If a new company directive involves the work of the front-line staff, it is essential you seek their input as to how best implement effectively. By being transparent, and involving your team early into the operationalization of any new way of doing work, you send the message that you respect the work they do. Respect for people is the key principle for an engaged team.
- Reward Early Adopters: Many leaders find their attention pulled toward the “problem” employees who refuse to adapt to change. Instead, spend your time and focus on those who embrace the change and reward them for adopting early. Empower eager teammates to take on the task of getting their peers on board by fostering their sense of pride and reaffirming their desires to grow in their career. Too much time is wasted on teammates who refuse to adopt which deflates those that are engaged in the effort.
- Make Frequent Bus Stops: There is no getting around the need for frequent “bus stops” to allow those who want to get off the bus to go on their merry way and those who want to join your team to get on board. Influential leaders understand that constant team grooming and growth are necessary to build a strong, high performing team. Avoiding crucial conversations is just as detrimental as forgoing inspiration.
High performing teams are more pull than push. Team members need to be inspired, feel respected and believe what they are doing is of great importance. At the end of they day, they drink the”corporate Kool-Aid” because they want to…. not because they are forced to. Most importantly, they invite other peers to join them at the watering hole for a nice, refreshing, cool beverage…together.
Angela is a healthcare executive, passionate leadership blogger at Leadershipelevateher.com, and loves speaking to groups about leadership culture. Network with Angela via LinkedIn and spread your inner professional circle.