How to lead the charge of change

leadership concept vector - manager & employees discussion

We can’t help it: even though we logically know that a brand new start is possible any minute of any day of any week of any month, a new year always makes us sit upright in anticipation. This is it! A new year! A brand new start! It’s exciting stuff.

It isn’t, however, how we feel about all new starts. New starts, see, often involve some sort of change.

Because it’s that time of year, chances are that your company or organisation is about to implement some change. And it’s not news that human beings supposedly loathe change and tend to resist it and fear it. Let’s get a bit of a grip, though: if human beings never did anything new, the human race would have died out a long time ago. So we do adapt, change, and grow. Sometimes we’re dragged into change kicking and screaming, sometimes we all but skip happily towards it, and sometimes we approach it timidly, two-steps-forward-one-step-back, but we get there. What determines how we approach change isn’t so much how we feel about it, as how we are led to it.

The people who bring about change don’t push from the back. They lead the charge of change. They aren’t just great visionaries and implementers: they are great communicators. They communicate the vision and purpose in a way that facilitates change.

The Language and Behavior (LAB) profile is invaluable in revealing team members’ behaviour in the context of change, and the language that will motivate them to make the change. It can help you be one of those great communicators that facilitate change effectively and naturally.

So: you have decided against distributing copies of Who Moved My Cheese and telling everyone the equivalent of “Get on with it!” in favour of an effective change management strategy. You have vision, you have purpose, you have steps you’re going to follow, and are prepared for any eventuality. Great. Now set that aside because it’s time for you to get your great communicator on.

First, check in on how you personally feel about those who resist change. If you have some unconscious bias there, address it. Resistance to change is neither good nor bad: it just is. (If you find it difficult to get your head around this concept, remember that change and resistance to change are equally responsible for what’s good in the world and what’s not.) Addressing your unconscious bias will instantly make you a better communicator because it will increase your empathy and ability to listen and understand.

Now for the interesting part: understanding team members so that you can use the communication that they will best respond to, which will motivate them to follow you into the change.

You won’t need to analyse their personalities or check how they adapted to change in the past. All you need to know is how long they’ve been with your company or organisation, and if necessary, with past employers.

Team members who stay 1-2 years with any company or organisation, including yours, can handle as much language of difference as you throw at them. Communicate the change with words like “different”, “radical”, “new”, “complete turnaround”, and “revolutionary”.

Team members who stay 5-7 years with any company or organisation, including yours, respond to the language of evolution. Communicate the change with words like “more” (or “less”), “better”, “upgrade”, “growth”, and “similar but better”.

Team members who stay about 3 years with any company or organisation, including yours, respond to both the language of change and evolution.

Team members who have been with your company or organisation 15-25 years respond to the language of stability. Obviously there is a change about to take place and you can’t shy away from that, but your language has to focus on what will remain the same. Use with words like “same”, “as you always do”, “like before”, “maintain”, and “unchanged”.

A change strategy brings change to the people, but the right language brings people to the change. And that’s even more exciting stuff.


If you’d like to know how the LAB profile can help you, your company, or organisation, get in touch.





Photo credit: © smarnad via DepositPhotos