What can be done about these fundamental barriers to business transformations?
Reduce ambiguity and create a feeling of safety
We can increase people’s ability to cope with uncertainty if they feel safe and there is transparency. To minimise the fear of change, we should communicate widely, frequently and involve as many individuals as possible. However, nomatter how comprehensive the consultation and communication strategy, we must accept that there will always be some level of uncertainty with any transformation.
Consequently, leaders should strive to create conditions of safety and trust within their teams – and the organisation as a whole – thereby equipping individuals with the psychological resources needed to cope with this uncertainty in a healthy and adaptive way.
One way in which leaders can foster trust within their teams is to adopt a non-judgemental attitude, because it is unrealistic to expect anyone to experience strong feelings of trust towards someone who you feel is judging you negatively.
We may instinctively pass judgement on the way colleagues, friends, family and others in our day-to-day life behave and come up with our own hypotheses on the reasons for that behaviour. But to have a truly non-judgemental attitude, we must avoid these involuntary judgements. So, while we can observe the behaviours of others, we shouldn’t draw conclusions without engaging with them and asking them the reasons. Any judgements will be presumptions based on our own frame of reference, influenced by our own life experiences, biases, personality, mood and emotion at the time. All of these are, of course, likely to be vastly different to those of the individual in question.
Abstaining from passing judgement is extremely difficult but the non-judgemental attitude of a leader has an important role to play in setting an example for the development of a trusting relationship, which can provide employees with valuable coping resources during times of uncertainty.
This article is one of a series exploring the challenges of business transformation.
Visit Improvement Leader Apprenticeship | Managing Business Transformation to read more and discover how Henley’s apprenticeships can drive strategic change and improvement.
More in this Series