How to build a transformation culture and mindset

Are your fears stopping you or your team?

Fear of change and of the unknown is a common stumbling block that hinders transformation and innovation at all levels. People are often fearful when they don’t know enough, or when they don’t feel safe enough. These fears come from a primitive place inside us all, and they easily surface in the modern workplace — especially when change is required.

Nothing changes if nothing changes

If you continue to think and work in a certain way, then it’s reasonable to assume that outcomes will be the same too. It’s unrealistic to set expectations and define goals at a completely new level, and yet continue to do things the way they have always been done.

If we want something new to happen, we must be brave enough to change.

And yes, it’s scary to leap into the unknown. What if I mess up? What if this new idea isn’t good enough? What if this is the wrong move?

Communication and trust are at the core of great ideas and change

“Yes, and…” instead of “no, but…”

The best ideas aren’t often the first ideas. And sometimes the worst ideas eventually turn out to be the best ideas.

We all handle change differently

Certain individuals in a team may find change and adopting new ways of working to be particularly challenging. It helps to remember that these reactions — as previously discussed — are often drawn from fear of the unknown. It may simply take more time for some people to adopt new thought processes, communication skills and working patterns.

A transformation toolkit for leaders

There are several tools that leaders and managers may find useful when leading change.

Tool 1: Bury the hierarchy and ask, ask, ask!

Hierarchy may be standing in the way of innovation and transformation. A good example of this is the ‘HiPPO’ effect (the ‘highest paid person’s opinion’), which can be one of the most damaging aspects for any team’s work. Managers must know when to step back, and need to respect every opinion, idea and effort from the team.

Tool 2: Listen. Truly listen.

There is really listening, and then there is acting like you are listening while actually thinking about other things. It’s good for managers and non-managers alike to question ourselves about this. Am I truly listening and considering what the other person is saying? Has my mind already been made up about the issue before listening to the other person? Listen first — really listen — and then decide.

Tool 3: Give license to fail.

Nobody will take a risk or go the extra mile if there is fear of failure and embarrassment in the back of their mind. So be conscious about how you react to failures, and what type of language is used. Mistakes and failures should happen even more when an organisation is changing and trying new things.

Tool 4: Show, don’t tell.

Managers need to be examples of the change they want to see in others. By modelling the positive change mindset, you as a manager can demonstrate how to approach transformation effectively, and allow others to follow in your footsteps.

Tool 5: Enable a culture of openness.

The famous quote “with great power comes great responsibility” can be applied to managers too. Your words and actions can have a significant impact on your team’s culture, so be sure to communicate openly and be part of actively building the trust and safety of your team. This also means challenging yourself just as you expect the members of your team to challenge themselves.

Communicating through change

It’s often said that communication is the key to successful change. And when we are dealing with organisational change, our fear of failing is the lock we need to open with that key.

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