Fear and Change “Management”?

“Managing” change is not overcoming resistance, but overcoming fear. Change brings ambiguity and we fear the things we don’t understand.  With that in mind, “Do it or else” will never lead to real change.  When people question a change, that isn’t resistance; it’s human to need to understand why.  Leaders who pay lip service to a change initiative are the primary cause of failure.

If you are a leader but don’t understand the vision or the plan, you need to ask and learn.  If you don’t become a believer, you’ll be the biggest problem.  There’s only one good solution to that problem so it’s better to become a believer.

Insist that your leaders explain clearly where they want to go so you can support the change they propose.  Ask lots of questions and help them answer them.  Many leaders haven’t paid those dues yet.  They need to.

Here are a few things you can do to overcome fear in the workplace:

  1. Spend much more time in the gemba. Be curious about everything.  Ask more questions, but make sure you ask as if you really want to know the answer, not to grill someone about what they know.
  2. Be more transparent.  Make your personal leadership development goals public. (what are YOU going to do differently!) Always give fully truthful answers to the questions people ask.  This can be very difficult.  Sometimes the best truthful answer is “I haven’t finished working that out yet; what do you think we should do about it?”  If there is a security or sensitivity issue, say so.
  3. Make better plans and get input from as many people as you can while you’re making them, but do it quickly.  Make decisions as quickly as possible using as much data as possible.  Make the plans visible (put them on your daily management board)
  4. Spend more time encouraging than correcting.  Don’t go looking for things that people are doing wrong; look for things people are doing right.
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