“It’s a whole lot easier in a great culture to drive positive and lasting change—versus a culture where there’s no trust,” says Craig Todd, CEO of AMEND Consulting.

AMEND is a consulting firm dedicated to building unbeatable businesses.

Todd has helped hundreds of clients implement change and drive double-digit growth. The focus is often on people, process, and metrics, and that’s part of why we sat down with Todd to talk about how leaders can undertake change management initiatives.

In our prior post, we talked about tips to help support organization change. In this post, we share two key lessons he’s learned for leaders when implementing change:

1. Trust is the foundation for successful change

Having a culture of trust helps a company to have the capacity to adapt and evolve, says Todd. “We can see trust playing out in terms of, ‘How do the people perceive us as we’re going through this change?’” says Todd.

With trust, your team will be more likely to embrace situations where they are uncomfortable or where there is uncertainty about the future. Without trust, that’s going to be difficult to do.

Since trust can be seen as the foundation to any successful change management initiative, how do you foster that in the long-run?

Todd has 4 tips to continue to foster a culture with a great deal of trust:

  • Think about the employee experience you’re either adding to…or taking away from each day. Consider the entire experience an employee has with the company. By understanding and prioritizing the human experience in the workplace, employers can create a culture where employees feel engaged, empowered, and fulfilled. When those factors are present, you’re set up for peak organizational performance, and you’re more likely to have a culture where trust is present.
  • Make sure your words align with your behaviors. One of the quickest ways you can erode trust is to behave in ways that aren’t in alignment with what you say as a manager. On the contrary, living out the values you talk about or living out the behaviors you talk about will work in your favor and will foster trust.
  • Give employees “ownership” of their work. Get commitment and buy-in from people by giving them ownership in the work they do each day. This means giving them freedom, space, and authority to “own” what they do and to carry out a project to the best of their abilities.If you don’t know where to start, give them a project that aligns with their current skill level, says Todd. “Give them an ownership piece where they can be successful at the level that they need to be successful,” he says. Then be sure to ask how you can support their efforts along the way.
  • Give away trust first. You can’t expect your people to trust you, if you don’t show that you trust them. You’ll be surprised by how people respond when you show that you trust them.

2. Progress is rarely linear

The second lesson Todd has learned over three decades is that the change and transition process isn’t going to be linear in nature. He explains: “With change, it’s not always one stage after another where you finish one stage, and then go on to the next,” he says. “Instead, you hit different stages at different times. You may go from stage one to stage three, and then back to stage two and back and forth.”

Successful change requires the ability to truly care about your people and to have empathy with how they are being asked to change. “The focus should always be on your people,” says Todd, and “that takes a great deal of emotional intelligence,” he says.

Todd’s condensed checklist to help you manage the ups-and-downs that come with change includes the following:

  • Honing your empathy as a tool to engage others. Empathy helps managers to understand and to connect with others by better understanding their perspectives, challenges, and desires. Showing more authentic empathy can help you rally teams and can help people to do their best work.
  • Being available and asking for feedback. How attentive are you to individual team members? Are you considered accessible if they have worries, concerns, or even ideas? Be consistent in your availability.
  • Anticipating a range of emotions from team members. You may be surprised with how well some team members do with change. Others who are typically more resilient may struggle or have a harder time than you would have imagined. “You have to have the emotional intelligence to understand and accept where people are at as you move forward. You also want to be sure you acknowledge and address their emotions and their feelings,” says Todd.

Todd explains part of this is about patience. “Remember, it’s not a linear progression for your organization or for individuals. Keep in mind everyone is different and they’re going to progress at different paces, too,” says Todd.

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