Posted by & filed under Actively Engaged Workers, Change Management, Leadership.

We’re currently in the midst of our Adapting to Change blog series. Last week, we discussed recognizing the need for change and  inspiring team members to get on board. This week: building momentum and maintaining it. 

Creating a vision is a key step in inspiring your team to want to be a part of a change. But believing in the vision as an abstract concept is very different from working actively toward it every day. How can we translate external aspirations into internal inspiration? How can we empower employees to act?

Check out our helpful tips to motivate your team:

Handle Naysayers

At nearly every stage in a major workplace shift, there will be those who resent change. It’s not that these people don’t want to buy into the vision the team has created or that they are willingly rooting for failure; more often than not, it’s that they’re afraid. Fear is a tremendously powerful emotion, and it can create anxiety and doubt in even the most positive employee.

You can address the fear of change in your team in several ways. First, listen to their concerns and do your best to address them. Don’t leave questions unanswered, as these can fester and turn into points of contention. The second is to understand that change can be very overwhelming from a workload standpoint. Learning new systems and hierarchies can make even regular tasks take longer, and for those employees who will take on additional work it’s easy to end up in the weeds. Consider how you can motivate individual team members to meet goals, or how you might be able to reduce their stress levels by eliminating unnecessary tasks and building momentum for positive growth.

Eliminate Roadblocks to Innovation

Kotter’s Eight Steps to Change model describes this phase of the change process as “empowering others to act on the vision.” “Others,” in most cases, means employees. The beginning phases of change might be stressful, but they’re also exciting: the team is faced with the novelty of a new system, but they’re also at their most creative and engaged as they brainstorm potential solutions.

Building momentum is key here — seize on this excitement! Now is the time for leadership to be at its most flexible. Consider how you might help to eliminate obstacles to change. Encourage risk-taking behaviors or change corporate policies that undermine the vision or limit the ability of team members to contribute. (Put into action, this method might involve approving a conference trip for a junior-level employee with great ideas so that she can continue to develop a new initiative she’s been working on. Or it might look like temporarily increasing flex time options or compensation structures, if these are impediments to growth and success. Or it might involve some unorthodox workday activities, like brainstorming sessions or staff retreats.)

Empowerment doesn’t always translate into just more privileges, either; those privileges are often paired with ownership of responsibility. Invest resources and privileges in the team members who seem enthusiastic and ready to take on challenges, and their success will motivate others to step up and take risks as well.

The most important element to remember is that in times of huge flux, your staff is your greatest asset. Leverage their enthusiasm and talents to fuel the initial fires of the change that you plan to make.

Building Momentum and Keeping It

Next time, we’ll focus on some tried-and-true methods to keep that momentum going (even when progress seems slow).

Employee Development Systems delivers results-oriented training programs that increase productivity, effectiveness, & performance.


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