“Change is good donkey” says Shrek to Donkey on their walk back to the Kingdom with the Princess Fiona, new to their group. Adding whole new dynamics to the Shrek team, the future, the behaviour, the consequences and the rewards. Now Shrek went from being a lonely, mean and terrifying ogre scaring everyone in the forest to having an overly energetic sidekick (that he didn’t want in the first place) to rescuing the Princess from the castle (that was protected by the dragon)and eventually marrying her. And poor Princess Fiona – she had to connect with the reality that she was an ogre by night and a Princess by day. Shrek made her realize that it was good to be who she really was, twenty-four hours a day, not only the Princess. There were many changes in processes and attitudes to accept along the way of a short lifespan in this movie. Shrek prepared himself before he could get Donkey on board with changes. How did they do it? How do you do it?
Change is a process. Changes come about because of a need. Change projects are ‘need-to-do’ not ‘nice-to-do’ projects and are developed with a clear vision of the future. Change processes develop because something is missing or there is something better out there for the organization, the customer, employees, the stakeholders or all of them combined. There will be a measurable difference in results. To develop the change project, analysis of gaps – ‘today vs. the future’ vision needs to be reviewed and understood so that each step in the change process will be effective, efficient and positively forward-moving.
Change can easily be thrust upon you. Are you ready for it? How do you prepare? How do you communicate change? How do you implement and maintain change?
1. Evaluate the Change
You will need to evaluate what type of change is coming your way. Is it a process change, people change, system change, personal change? Or is the change an accumulation of small steps that are progressive?
2. Understand the People Impact
You will need to understand who is involved in the change. Just you? Your entire team? What other stakeholders will be affected by the change? Your customers? Your vendors? Your employees? Your organization? Will the changes or the effects on the stakeholders be positive or negative? What role are the members of your team playing? Who will be happy with the change – embrace and fully execute all components of the project, even become and advocate? Who will be a ‘change-hostage’ – adverse and slow to change? Who will be a ‘change-vacationer’ – go with the flow and pick later how they feel about the change? Who will not last through the change? There may have to be significant changes to the members on the team for the change to last and be successful.
3. Anticipate Roadblocks
Roadblocks will come up in more than one fashion. You will need to run through many ‘what –if’ scenarios to prepare yourself in advance for roadblocks. When you are in the middle of the change process and encounter a roadblock, it will be difficult to properly think it through – you will get into a reactionary mode, so run through the scenarios in advance.
• People Roadblocks – how will you handle ‘change-hostages’? How will you handle the need to increase or decrease staffing? How will you help your customers through the changes?
• Process Roadblocks – how will you prepare for system breakdowns, process improvements that need tweaking for your specific team or area? How will you explain new pricing strategies? How will you react to lack of or overabundance of product?
• Day to Day Roadblocks – how will you handle double-digit increases in business and still happily exceed your customers expectations? How will you handle the lack of control over the flow of merchandise or sales until a new rhythm develops? What will you do to anticipate and avoid future issues?
4. Make a Personal Commitment to Become a Change Agent
Nothing else will matter unless you decide to become a Change Agent. You will need to have a long look in the mirror and assess your own leadership ability and your skills to work through this change. Are you mentally ready for this change? Is your attitude towards this change positive? Are you prepared to face the challenges that come with communicating and implementing change? Are you prepared to change how you do things personally to keep up with and exceed the expectations of the new vision for the future? You need to analyze your own gaps. It may be time to make serious decisions about your role in the organization – are you going to lead change, follow change or get out of the way? What worked in the past will not work in the future – habits, routines, communication methods, even your daily attitude will be tested. Can you handle the tests and anticipate the changes you will need to make for you to truly be a change agent?
You will need to lead your team through the change. Partial commitment will be useless. Use all of the resources available to you to get through the change – past experiences, experiences of others, projections, project plans, timelines, anything that can provide you with support and help you create a solid plan to communicate and implement the upcoming change.
If you always do what you always did, you will always get what you always got. When you are in a change process, you will need to encourage your team to work in new ways, build new habits, try new activities, develop new routines, and communicate with new members of the team that can provide insight and expertise. How you teach your team to do this lies squarely on the leader’s shoulders. Your attitude will always be reflected in the attitude your team shows to your customers, each other, your vendors, your stakeholders and your organization.
Shrek was very kind to Donkey expressing his belief in change. Change is good, be prepared personally to get the change started from within yourself. As the leader, you will take your team through the change, the roadblocks, the surprises and the rewards. By committing to becoming a Change Agent, you will ensure the successful implementation and empower your team to reach the vision of the future.