The last few days have been extremely challenging and, for a lack of a better word, draining. My team has been working hard to putting the final touches on our strategic plan. In recent days I’ve written about some of the challenges concerning the “packaging of the message” (see Repackaging). With a frank and frustrating conversation within the team today, I got a glimmer of a deep, underlying issue that has percolated beneath the surface which, when it burst forth, almost threatened to grind us to a halt.
The issue is a fear of change.
In the opinion of some associated with my team, there is no compelling reason to change. “What we have right now is working fine. We’re safe, getting the job done, and are performing within our budget marks. Why should we change?”
To get to the root of an answer, I found myself recalling John Kotter’s Eight Step Change Model. Step 1 is “create a sense of urgency” around the need for change. Clearly, some associated with my team have no sense of urgency about the change – some believe no change is needed at all! Therefore, to get off the dime, somehow I need to address step 1.
My challenge here is that I’m an “outsider” to the rest of the team. I am part of the same larger organization as the members of my team; however, I don’t have the expertise nor ownership of the work that my team members have. Therefore, for me to expose some sense of urgency would be met with some skepticism and may undermine my credibility in their eyes. Where should I go, then?
To our organization’s top leadership.
I almost undermined this option. At first, I chose to present the team’s strategy solo, just me and the top leadership. One of my team members asked if I would reconsider that approach and allow the rest of the team to attend. I offered to consider the request, then realized that beneath the surface was a cry for validation from our boss on the goals and objectives we have set that are tied the change. Therefore, when I present to the top leadership, I want my team to attend. I will ask the top leadership to address the need and urgency for the change – why should we change at all, and how important is it? If we can get through this particular step and obtain buy-in from everyone associated with my team, we will set the stage for working the other seven steps (most of which are already in place) and will be successful in moving forward with our strategy.
Fear of change. It says we’re human and fallible, yet it also speaks to the possibilities available to us if we can overcome our fear.