How well does your team react to change?  Do they get on board easily? Are they nimble, excited to innovate, and willing to slog through the awkward learning curve?  Or do they groan every time you suggest a new initiative?  Or perhaps they placate you – nodding in agreement, with no intention of shifting and hoping to wait you out?  Or are they simply burnt out on change?

If your team embraces change, thank them.  A lot.  Speak to specifics and let them know how much you appreciate their willingness to step up to the plate and “get ‘er done” even when it’s outside of their comfort zone.

Otherwise if your team is change averse or reasonably burnt out on change, implement a change upgrade.  (Ideally have this dialogue with your team when you’re not looking to make a new change.   Otherwise this exchange can be perceived as self-serving and manipulative.)

  1. To set up the context and get your team engaged in the discussion, have your team take Ariane de Bonovoisin’s The First 30 Days Change Quiz: http://images.barnesandnoble.com/pimages/resources/pdf/Change_Quiz.pdf?cds2Pid=17007&linkid=1401682

Then discuss as a team:

  • In general, are you someone who likes change or can’t stand it? Why?
  • What changes have you enjoyed at our organization?
  • What changes have been frustrating, hard or scary?

Then Share:

  1. Communicate: if we don’t play, if we don’t consistently innovate, we will lose. Share the sad stories of Blockbuster and Kodak who didn’t play in the world of online streaming media and digital photography. They lost. Think of Facebook who moved beyond the comfort of colleges. It won. Think of Google which played beyond the role of search engine with Adwords. They won. Yahoo wallflowered.

*Mini-Mantra:    If we don’t play we can’t win.

  1. Speak to why change is positive even when outcomes are unknown. Change challenges us to expand our comfort zone. Butterflies keep us on our toes.  We gain opportunities to learn and uncover valuable insights.  Change is career development at its best.
  1. Address the reality of change. It’s not perfect. Sometimes it looks like two stumbles forward, one step to the side and one step back.  The team may need to try things on and see if they fit. When they don’t, it’s a great example of failing forward. Tell stories about changes in the past that were successful, and speak about ones that weren’t and what you learned as a result.   With particularly difficult changes, make sure you speak to the discomfort. Don’t soft sell it.

*Mini-Mantra:  Try, learn, adjust.

  1. Underscore the humor and humanity of change. Emphasize that when you go through change, you’re all going through it together. Change is a journey. Acknowledge that sometimes change is just messy. Ask your team to keep their sense of humor. Stress that while they can’t always control change, they can always control their response, attitude, words and actions.
  1. Share Stanford University Psychologist Carol Dweck’s insightful paradigm of the Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset from her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. She outlines how to be more focused on learning rather than looking good. Especially helpful for your naysayers and perfectionists.
  1. Share how they can support change:
  • If there’s ambiguity and you need clarity, get it.
  • If you’re concerned, express it constructively.
  • Don’t be attached to the way things used to be.
  • Celebrate being uncomfortable – you’re learning.
  • Learn from and lean on each other.
  • Trust the intentions of one another and the organization.
  • Expect it won’t go perfectly and have empathy.

For more tangible tools and transformational workplace culture info, get your copy of Culture Works: How to Create Happiness in the Workplace