This is an awesome question about change from an HR Bartender reader –
I’m coming into a department that has had an enormous amount of turnover and lack of consistency. Even though change is in order, I don’t want to change too much too quickly. Interested in knowing your perspective on finding balance.
I can completely relate to this. Several times in my career, I’ve been brought in to make change happen. And how those changes are implemented really defines you as a manager and leader.
While I don’t have any specifics from the reader on the kinds of changes needed, there is one thing I’ve learned when it comes to implementing change. For me, the key is getting buy-in. Not just buy-in from senior leadership, but also from my peers and employees. This is especially true when the changes could be perceived as unpleasant.
To show you what I mean, here’s an example from a volunteer board I was part of years ago:
Every year, the board had to form a nominating committee to elect incoming officers. One year, the chair of the committee – let’s call him Bob – decided to change the process. Bob doesn’t get any buy-in from the rest of the committee, who proceeded to get upset about the changes. Bob’s committee started sharing their thoughts about what Bob was doing with the rest of the board. The board then votes to formalize the nominating committee process, hence overruling the changes announced by Bob.
Were Bob’s ideas bad or wrong? We’ll never really know. We do know that the way Bob decided to create change was considered disruptive by the group. And the group took action to stop it.
So getting buy-in can help solicit support for your ideas. If challenges develop while implementing a change, then you know you have people who agreed to the plan. The process of soliciting buy-in can also give you some insight where people might be apprehensive about your proposed idea.
There is a downside to getting buy-in: it can take time. Sometimes a lot of time. In fact depending upon the situation, it can seem like a waste of time. Which I think is why some people don’t do it. I have to say I’ve never found getting buy-in to be a waste.
What is a waste is not taking advantage of opportunities to build relationships with people in your organization who you know, at some point, you will have to get buy-in from. You would be amazed how much easier those buy-in conversations go when you have shared some prior experiences or discussions.
Let me toss it out to you guys. When you’re faced with creating change, what do you do?2