"It is said so often it has almost became a truism, "People do not like change". Well, I don't accept that and as business leaders we should not accept that. We have a duty to lead change, encourage our staff to embrace change and drive improvements."

This was the theme of Stewart Barnes' LEAD™ Masterclass this week, where over 40 business leaders attended to hear not just the what, but more importantly, the why and how.

"By observing and listening to what actually goes on inside companies, you will hear people speak about 'improvement', 'getting more from less', 'growing sales' or you may sense a desire to create new products or services, use a new technology such as social media etc. Therefore, staff in businesses are discussing and encouraging change all the time. They may not be using the word "change" but the meaning is there. However, are these voices of change being heard by senior management?

"Our role as leaders is to get the organisation ready to change ('unfreeze'), lead our staff and the company through the change ('move') and then embed the change ('refreeze'). These three stages are Lewin's Change Management model which I have found helpful when explaining change to staff and having a process to manage change. Some key points are:

1. Provide information on the need for change but keep the message simple as people initially go in to a form of shock and only listen to the first few sentences.

2. Meet and discuss with staff to create shared understanding on what the change means to them and to their roles. Be available to answer the plethora of questions.
3. Provide empathy and support on the need for the change. It takes time to instigate and embed the change so as leaders we need to support staff on the journey. This is not an easy time as people are learning about the changes and need to be given time to understand and work with them. Support is really important here and can be in the form of training, coaching, and expecting mistakes as part of the process.
4. Turn the fear of change and any perceived threat the staff members have that they will not be able to cope with the change into a shared agreement on what requires changing and what they need to do.

5. The changes are accepted and become the new norm. People become comfortable with their routines.
6. Show the rest of the organisation that the change is embedded. Share knowledge.

"Change is a common thread that runs through all businesses regardless of size, industry and age. Our world is changing fast and, as such, organisations must change quickly too. Organisations that handle change well thrive, whilst those that do not may struggle to survive. Try using the Lewin model and improve how you lead change."

Stewart is the MD of QuoLux™a trusted and valued Non-Executive Director (NED) of businesses across the region, one of the Masterclass speakers across our leadership, strategy and innovation programmes, LEAD™ and its successors, GOLD™ and GAIN™, and one of the authors of the triple award nominated book, LEADing Small Business: Business Growth through Leadership Development.

For more information about working with Stewart and QuoLux™, or to join one of our programmes, please get in touch here.


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