As we discussed in the first article in this series, change is inevitable. The only thing more certain is your project team’s resistance to that change.
Here are five concrete steps you can take to overcome common change roadblocks.
It should be no surprise that the first thing "the experts" recommend to help other’s embrace change is communication, communication and more communication. In fact, you’ll want to error on the side of too much communication to be sure everyone involved feels as though they are "in the loop." Nothing is worse than sitting in your office, steadily working on your project tasks only to find (a little too late) that project requirements have changed and no one thought to tell you.
2. Involve & Engage
Remember the old adage, "There is no ‘I’ in ‘team’?" Apply that here. As a project manager, you are part of a larger team. A team, I’d like to remind you, that is involved because of their unique and needed skill sets. Don’t just ask them for their insight during the project planning stage — continually ask them. What you’re looking to do here is to build their perceived investment. Because, when someone is invested in the outcome, they’re more likely to go down the road of change with you.
3. Positivity begets Positivity
To pull from an old Saturday Night Live bit, don’t be a "Debbie Downer." Change is inevitable and your team will feel about it the way that you, their project leader, will feel about it. It doesn’t matter if you don’t feel positive; you need to present a positive face to get everyone on board to get the work done. I call this the "suck it up and sell it" face. Happy, engaged and positive team members produce results. Unhappy and negative team members are like a virus that spreads throughout your entire team.
4. See the Big Picture
Your team members are most likely involved in multiple projects. And, while the project that you are managing is at the top of your list of priorities, it isn’t always at the top of their list. Remind yourself of this bigger picture when you communicate with your team. If you ask them, they’ll tell you that everything on their list is a priority.
5. Be Open
Many people actually embrace change — if it was their idea. In the project environment, change often comes from the stakeholders and the people that implement those ideas, the team members, are not always involved at the idea stage. This disconnect is where resistance to change occurs. Be open with your team members and empathize with them. Let them know you understand their frustrations and validate them. Then, explain why you’re ALL moving in the new direction, why it’s good for the project and why it’s good for the individual team member.