We started with our Vision. Morale got worse?!?!
I recently had the privilege of taking a call from a colleague who was tapped to lead a transformation (otherwise known as a reorganization) of a multi-billion dollar company. A vision was created, 'To create a world class organization' and articulated to the organization. Rather than seeing enthusiasm and people rallying to the cause, resentment and frustration were bubbling below the surface.
Some simple omissions shifted the balance.
Transformation is hard. Most people don’t like it. There is a simple reason. It’s associated with uncertainty and disruption, things most people fear. In the business world this beautiful word, Transformation, has become synonymous with change and 'cutting' (costs and personnel). When you’re transforming, launching or innovating, despite the best of intentions, you’re creating change (disruption and uncertainty). Starting transformations, launches or innovation with vision is a great start in overcoming fear and resistance to change. It is human nature to want to be inspired and to want to be part of something great. But focusing on vision and stopping there is a double edged-sword. In articulating what you want to be, you’re also saying something about where you are - it's saying we’re not there. For those that helped create where you are, that can be a problem, one that creates resentment and frustration and can kill any transformation, launch or innovation. Why? If we’re not where we want to be and you were part of that, will you be part of the solution or part of the cuts? Uncertainty, disruption and fear! When you have uncertainty, disruption and fear, people are looking out for themselves, not working towards the goal you’ve stated.
Creating safety with Why, Acknowledgement, Appreciation and an Invitation. W+A+A+I=S and it only takes a minute.
There are four simple things you can do that can help overcome fear and create safety and they only take a minute:
- Inspire! Include your Why. Vision is great. Why are you doing it? Tap into the deeper reason and align behind it.
- Acknowledge the hard work, dedication and energy that got you where you are. Are you world-class? Maybe, maybe not. But if you’re around, undoubtedly people worked hard to get you there and people need to know that you see that.
- Don’t stop there! Offer Appreciation for the people and things that got you to where you are. Appreciating what's been done doesn’t undercut trying to do something new. It shows people you’ll notice again when this transformation goes well.
- Offer an Invitation to join in an incredible ride in which people will be acknowledged and appreciated when success is achieved.
The simple steps in action
The acknowledgement: 'I want you to know that I know we wouldn’t be here today without the hard work and dedication so many of you have offered the company.'
The appreciation: 'I want to offer my appreciation for the work you’ve done and the successes we’ve created. You’ve made a difference and created the platform for an exciting next step in our evolution.'
The Invitation (including Why): 'The next step of our evolution is to transform ourselves in to a world-class organization in order to further fulfill our mission of empowering the planet to access the information they need to live better lives. I need your help to do it. I know the talent to pull it off is right here in this room. And I’m excited to have the opportunity to work on this with you.'
Transformation, launches and innovation are hard. Don’t make them painful too.
I’ve led businesses, transformations and launches. They’re hard. They’re even harder when your team isn’t aligned and enthusiastic. Not everyone will be. But I can tell you from personal experience that if you can articulate your 'why' and your vision and couple them with Appreciation, Acknowledgement and an Invitation, you’ll increase the odds for success dramatically. It only takes a minute. But, it’s the foundation for the success you want to create.