Change. It’s everywhere – all the time. What change management looks like varies from organization to organization. Some view it as a course. Some view it as a theory. Others view it as a big-bang initiative, or something “managers do.” But, let’s take a step back for a minute.
Change isn’t just about putting your energy into building something new or simply fighting through the old ways of getting things done. What does change management mean? For starters, change involves a real shift in thinking, which is something that leaders in commercial enablement learn more about each day. Learning to embrace when it challenges current thinking or ways of communicating is difficult, and that’s the very nature of the role.
Commercial enablement leaders find that they must challenge the status quo and disrupt it. That means enrolling others because change isn’t just about one person. Lasting change always involves others. What change management leaders require is often unexpected or overlooked by mid-level managers. As an orchestrator, it’s important to enroll others into change. That includes direct reports, as well as those across the organization who are trying to understand what change management looks like.
It’s human nature to resist change and the unknown to some extent, so commercial enablement leaders need to stay on guard to avoid this pattern of thinking.
Many people end up being reactive when changes happen, and they’re constantly battling a lot of small things instead of focusing on the bigger picture of where the change is heading, or why it’s required in the first place.
Leaders must bring their team through change.
Contrary to what many people think, change doesn’t necessarily come as a massive wave and a “big bang” initiative. Nor can someone simply wave their magic wand and make change happen. There are different types of change, and often it comes in the form of tiny, incremental steps. Much like when the ice melts, it’s largely due to the environment itself.
What Change Management Looks Like
There are three types of change people in the commercial system will encounter:
- Developmental change — when things are continuously improving so that change becomes a wave of being
- Transitional change — when the old is being dismantled
- Strategic change — when the company is defining the end state and how to evolve and get there
Each person has different consequences, which impacts how they must navigate change when leading. They can also experience all three of these types of change all at one time.
A leader’s responsibility is to bring people through change faster and reduce the challenges that come with it by minimizing productivity dips. But leaders shouldn’t pretend they know everything that’s going to happen. In an ecosystem like the commercial system, it’s impossible to know everything. Leaders must be aware that they aren’t in control when changes are happening. That type of short-sighted thinking can affect their credibility as a leader, especially if they’re conveying messages that they can’t follow through on.
Learn to overcome resistance.
Enablement orchestrators always need to anticipate resistance when change is happening. Instead of getting frustrated, realize it’s only human nature. But as with change itself, there are different types of resistance. It can show up in a variety of different ways. One of the most common forms is negativity, which is best tackled by counterbalancing it with positivity. And doubling that positivity in order to help keep momentum.
When overcoming resistance, enablement leaders can plan for three stages of change: the start of a change, its implementation, and sustaining it. There are often many initiatives in these stages at one time. As a result, enablement orchestrators must also interact with their colleagues and peers on those three levels to understand how people think and feel about the changes that are happening, while also engaging them to understand of they’re adapting and overcoming resistance.
Finally, repetition is everything when navigating change. Enablement leaders can’t just tell people to go do something — they may need to ask 7-10 times and remind people why it’s important. Some enablement leaders lose patience and show frustration. Don’t be one of them. When that happens, they can’t blame others for failing to adapt.
What you can do
As an enablement leader, you need an awareness of how much change you can or can’t embrace and handle individually, and as a group. At the same time, you will need to be focused on what change management is required what must happen, and how your actions and decisions affect how you interact with others.
Consider creating solid relationships, or even a formal approach to navigate through constant change. As a leader, the environment you create, and the relationships you have are more critical than anything else. Find out what your team needs from you to increase their resiliency and adaptability to change or to feel more supported. Sometimes, they don’t know what to do or what to say, or just need to be heard.
Last but not least, make sure you’ve considered the views and perspectives of everyone who is impacted by the change. Don’t make assumptions about what you think they will experience. Engage them, and ask them. Talk with them. Otherwise, some peers or team members may feel like they haven’t been considered or are being left behind.
What it means to you
Commercial enablement leaders have a unique role in leading people through change, no matter what change management looks like. As a leader, you’re visible and you’re responsible for closing the gap from the current state to the future state. Many might not always agree with a change or feel they have all the information you need to handle change in an optimal way, but with your help and leadership, they will learn to adapt.