Do a thing in its time, and peace follows it. – African Proverb
Introducing a new initiative or change in your company can be a challenging and delicate process. Be mindful of the timing and culture of your organization to ensure a successful transition to new norms, relationships, processes and vision. Here are some tips to help you navigate this process:
Timing is everything
Timing is crucial when introducing a new initiative. You need to consider both the internal and external factors that can impact the success of your project. For example, you may want to avoid introducing a new initiative during a busy period when your employees are already overwhelmed with work, unless you can offer a convincing rationale that will relieve their overwork. Changes work because people see how it benefits them or their work. Also consider external factors such as industry trends, economic conditions, and competition. Is the change worth the time? Will it improve or disrupt?
One way to approach timing is to look for windows of opportunity. These are times when your company is experiencing a lull in activity or when there is a shift in the market that could benefit your initiative. By being aware of these windows of opportunity, you can introduce your new initiative at a time when it has the best chance of success.
Culture plays a critical role in how new initiatives are received by employees. Leaders understand the organization’s culture, and how a change initiative fits within that culture. Consider the values, norms, rituals, symbols and legends that define your company and how the initiative aligns with them.
To create a smooth transition, it’s important to communicate your initiative in a way that resonates with your employees. This means understanding their perspectives, concerns, and motivations. One way to do this is to involve employees in the planning process. By getting their input and feedback, you can create a sense of ownership and buy-in that can make the transition smoother and more successful.
Transitions take time
Finally, people are willing to change in their own time. William Bridges introduced the idea of transition in the change process. Everyone has a story, a series of experiences that determine how they want their lives to be. Many people in the midst of a change process have unanswered questions such as “Why are we doing this?” ( see Simon Sinek) or “What impact will the change have on my work, relationships, time or compensation.” People don’t just resist change, they resist being changed.
Change is not easy, and it can take a while for employees to adapt to a new initiative. Patience and customized support and resources can be provided to help your employees navigate the transition. This may include training, mentoring, coaching, or other forms of support. Remember that everyone wants to feel competent. Change is uncomfortable. A vivid example is that change is like being on a trapeze and at some point an employee must let go of the trapeze ( the familiar state) and grab the new trapeze flying toward her. For moments or sometimes weeks, there is a fear of no support or safety net. Change requires a passionate commitment to a new way of being.
Introducing a new initiative in your company requires timing, careful planning, consistent communication, consideration of culture and timing. By being mindful of these factors, you can create a smooth and successful transition that benefits your company and your employees. Remember, transitions take time, so be patient and provide support to help your employees adapt to the change. With the right approach, you can introduce new initiatives that drive growth and success for your company.
© Eleanor Hooks, Ph.D, an Executive Coach specializing in Mental Resilience