What change management strategies overlook very frequently is the ugliness, pain and mess that come with resistance to any business transformation.
Initial intention of this post was to address the mess that comes with transitioning from in person to remote work. However, it was impossible for me to address it without giving you the context.
TRANSFORMATION IS INEVITABLE
Some businesses transform because of the growth, others because of the losses, some adopt new strategies because of the competition, other business owners are ready to risk big, some prefer to play safe, bottom line in 2020 everybody is looking for alternative, opportunity, additional way to shift from offline to online.
This global, fast and unexpected shift to online showed us all the gaps in our personal lives. It showed cracks in our relationships (with ourselves, our partners, friends, family, peers, colleagues, communities etc.), in our households, in our finances, mental and physical well-being, flexibility. All of the sudden, the line between professional and personal became blurry.
Even those who already were leading remote teams, had online businesses and home offices had to deal with the fact that the world is a different place. Variety of reactions and responses that we have seen from leaders, from ignoring, over "deal with that, we all on in the same boat" rhetoric to over mothering clearly indicated the need for a new model of leadership.
Model of leadership that is based on both, masculine action taking and decisiveness and feminine nurturing and creative power.
To me, this global shift of businesses from offline to online is allegory of our collective need for shift. Shift from old paradigm to new. Shift from known to unknown. Shift from limitation to unlimited potential. Shift from physical reality to imagination. Shift from boarders to boarder -less.
PHYSICAL REALITY, VIRTUAL REALITY AND SOMETHING IN BETWEEN
Our online presence is not new, from gaming, social media and schooling to dating, we were creating our online identities and lives. In a way, we were living in another form of duality - physical reality and virtual reality, we were leading parallel lives. And from March 2020 these two realities blended more than ever. We were taken to the next level. To something in between.
On this new level, in this hybrid reality, the real question is what can we do, as leaders, individually and organizationally, to truly help each other in this process. Maintaining productivity, motivation, engagement, going extra mile - yes, but we must truly help each other to bridge all those gaps, fill the cracks.
As visionary leaders, we see what others don't. Therefore we have to find ways to show what we see to our team members. And is there a better way to help people change their perception than to give them a pair of VR glasses?
DIFFERENT TOOLS FOR DIFFERENT REALITY
Let me explain. When you, as a business owner or leader, transform your organisation in any way, for any reason, what you do is this - you literally build different realities for your people. By changing roles, expectations, direction, way of operating, measurement system, people, you create a different environment for your people.
And here comes the messy part: You having the vision is the same as you having your own set of VR glasses, these are your visionary glasses that allow you to perceive this new, different reality. And you expect that your workforce sees the same, understands the same, to share your vision and to build everything with you, to build new systems, new architecture, new approach, new solutions without VR glasses. They didn't change the perspective, they have the same lenses as before.
REJECTING THE UNKNOWN
Leaders tend to forget that with every change that they bring, they ask their workforce to change, to become different.
I want you to take a moment and really understand this. It is not that people don't want changes. It's the opposite, people have lists of things that want to be different in their lives. It is that people resist to changing themselves. Why? Because it is painful. It requires that we adopt new ways of behavior and for that we need to change our beliefs, our habits, our thoughts, to deal with our feelings. So, I want you to really integrate what you have just read.
Imagine yourself walking around with VR glasses on and explaining to your workforce what you see and want them to build. They will never, whatever change management strategy you implement, see what you see, if you don't create glasses for them as well.
New reality demands new lenses, changed perspective, different perception. So, whatever changes you introduce in your business or team, including shifting from physical to virtual office - if you don't put time and energy (and money if needed), in systems and tools that will support your people during the transitioning process - you can count on misalignment.
I've seen this scenario over and over again and, at the end of this text, I can say that I feel like the true purpose of it is to give you the sense of importance when it comes to addressing people part of your business transformation.
And leading people through transformation is probably one of the most magnificent experiences leader can have. So, use your visionary sight to look beyond messiness, ugliness and fear. Look for the potential. There is no better moment to truly see potential of your people but in times of changes. In times of changes and uncertainty, you will know yourself and your people better than in any other moments.
Ask yourself, what kind of goggles your team could use today?