6 Steps to Get Your Workforce to Conform to Change

To be successful, leaders need the approval of their leadership team. For example, if you want your business to grow faster, you need a new business strategy and a team that can follow that strategy to grow faster.

To do this, you need to lead a process that invents a growth strategy, creates implementation plans, and drives execution. There are three major obstacles to overcome:

  • Whoever you exclude from the team you are putting together for this exercise can undermine the result
  • The team members you choose can compete for resources that will benefit their group versus the needs of the entire company
  • While you should strive to make everyone affected by the change happy, you may need to make some people unhappy to get the results you want

Here are six steps executives can take to reach an agreement on changing the direction of your business.

1. Team up by balancing inclusion and determination.

In order for your reps to agree to a change, you need to balance the desire that everyone feels connected to the need to achieve results. To unite this circle, leaders should view change as an experiment from which the company can learn and improve. Form a team with the skills required to make this experiment work.

For example, the leader of a team of college educators wanted to fundamentally improve a course that they were all teaching. Instead of including all of the professors who would be teaching the course over the next two years, the leader staffed the redesign team only with the teachers who will teach the course in the next semester. By doing this, the leader increased the likelihood that the smaller design team would come to an agreement on redesigning the course in time to try next semester.

In order to gain the support of the professors who were to teach the course in the distant future, the leader asked for their opinion and asked for advice on how to conduct the experiment and what to expect from it.

2. Agree on the most urgent reasons for a change.

Once the team is selected, the leader needs to reach consensus on formulating the most pressing reasons for a change. For example, the leader of a company suffering from slower growth and a decline in market share should seek consensus that the company’s top priority should be to grow faster.

3. Ask each team member to present a solution to the group.

Guide the team on brainstorming options to achieve the goal. Ask the team to explain why the company is facing the problem – for example, losing market share – that needs to be addressed. If the team doesn’t know, commission objective research that will lead to fact-based answers.

Each team member should then present and defend the reasons for their best solutions. Managers shouldn’t criticize the ideas – instead, they should praise what they like about them and ask questions to clarify their understanding of the suggestions.

If you did this correctly, your team will feel that you have listened carefully and that you respect their thinking.

4. Present a solution that brings together the team member’s best ideas.

Each member of your team can have different suggestions. Think about each one and formulate a solution that combines each team member’s best ideas and most effectively accomplishes the purpose of the change process.

Consider the professor leading a course redesign to reduce the time instructors spend on grading. A member of the teaching team suggests replacing individual papers with group work. Another instructor wants to add individual machine-level quizzes. The mixed proposal from the professor could include both ideas.

5. Get each team member’s feedback on the proposal.

Next, present your proposed solution and get feedback from your team. To do this, create a shared table that all team members can edit and view in real time. Ask each team member to indicate whether or not they agree with each element of your proposal, and explain why.

6. Vote on a revised version of the strategy change.

Once everyone can see each team member’s feedback, you should be able to reach consensus by making relatively minor changes to the proposal. If your team agrees, you should be on your way to carrying out the suggestion and getting the results you want.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

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