Leading Through Change

I sent this out for a customer email newsletter today, and I wanted to share it here too.

I hope this letter brings you some encouragement and perspective as you lead your teams.

I read a post from a guy named Ron Edmondson the other day that really struck me by how spot on it was. You can read it yourself here: http://ronedmondson.com/2017/10/7-tensions-you-can-expect-in-fast-growth.html

Ron is talking about fast growth in his post, but the same tensions come up any time our organizations are changing.

Change is inevitable. And it doesn’t even matter if it’s change we are driving, or change that that is happening around us. There is one major issue change will introduce every time if we do not lead well. That problem is negativity.

Change goes hand-in-hand with the unknown. And because we are human beings, our tendency is to fill in what we don’t know with negativity. We let fear take over and we can’t see around the gap. And when negativity creeps in, it spreads fast.

I remember reading somewhere that overcoming negative energy requires 10 times the amount in positive energy. I am not sure how scientific this is, but I still love the visualization. It begs us to ask the question, “How do we protect our teams from negativity to begin with?”

Here are my ideas.

Over-communicate. If we tend to fill in what we don’t know with negativity, we need to communicate what the gaps are. Tell your team when you don’t know, and let them know it’s ok to not know. We are human beings who have been created with an incredible ability to figure things out. It also helps to communicate that change brings about change, so everyone should be ready to adapt.

Assume the best. We should always assume the best and encourage our teams to do the same. If we fill in gaps with the benefit of the doubt, especially when it comes to each other, we protect ourselves from unnecessary tension and frustration. We shouldn’t put on rose-colored glasses and pretend everything is perfect either…just don’t assume the negative when we really don’t know.

No gossiping. We define gossip as voicing frustrations to people who cannot solve the problem. When we complain to a peer we, are not actually working to solve the problem. We are only spreading negativity. We have an open door policy at Envoy. If one of our team members is frustrated, we want them to come to us or go to their boss. We want to hear them out. We want them to be able to vent. We want to fix the underlying problem. And doing this keeps the conversation focused on what can be done to improve the situation.

Understand what you cannot control. There is something freeing about being able to see a problem, to acknowledge that something just stinks, but still have the positivity, perspective, and peace of mind to know that we are in control of our decisions. Stephen Covey says this in The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People:

“Our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our conditions.”

When we are in control of ourselves, when we are responding and not reacting, our outlook and ability to succeed under extraordinary circumstances is high.

Rest. There is only so much effective work we can do. Sometimes we have to dig deep and just get stuff done. And sometimes, we need to recognize we are too exhausted to be effective, and rest. We are more important than our work, and we have to take care of ourselves.

If you didn’t read the post I linked to earlier, you should. It will help you realize you are not alone in dealing with the tensions of growth and change.