Organizational change is a tough battle, and it takes a tremendous amount of time and effort to get it up and running, to maintain enough momentum to see it through until the benefits are realized. There are many phases that need to be developed and managed, as I discussed in my last webinar on the topic.
In fact, it’s not unlike starting up a new business, when you think of the overall framework:
- Setting a vision
- Clarifying your starting point - the status quo
- Promoting and marketing the why and what of it all
- Engaging your stakeholders to get them excited, to extract their thoughts and ideas, to determine their struggles that you’ll want/need to address
- Planning through all these phases for exactly how you might get there
- Executing the many, many tasks that go along with that (and staying on track!)
- Measuring progress & communicating with stakeholders how the whole team is doing
- And finally celebrating the realization of the full potential of the initiative as it was meant to deliver!
And, unfortunately a lot of people give up, or they lose steam because they have lost sight of the vision, because it turns into management of the day-to-day tasks, the mundane trudging through the day until one can go home.
I have found over the years, when working on long term initiatives, or on multi-phase projects that seem never to come to fruition, that it is worth doing a few things to stay on track.
Ensure you set out a clear vision, ensure that your communication of this is clear, and if working with a team, ensure that they have had opportunity to contribute to its development. We need to be able to re-create exactly where we are headed, and have everyone aligned to move forward in the same direction, even if each is working on their own distinct part of it.
Schedule checks & updates
On a daily basis, preferably at day’s end, do a quick review of what was achieved - check this against your list of to-do’s or schedule as it was intended…adjust as required for the next day or two, and reprioritize items that can wait to stay on track with the primary tasks.
On at least a bi-weekly basis, ensure that the work that you and your team have completed, and other interconnected work completed by other teams, is still in alignment with the ultimate goal. Not only does this keep us on track, but it also makes sure we see and celebrate the progress being made - even if it is only in small increments. These really do add up over time.
I try to break my day into chunks of work on specific tasks, and focus on only those things during those times. So that means I might schedule in time for taking a break, surfing the net, talking on the phone or conversing with co-workers about project details. You might think to do the same.
In this day and age, almost everyone is trying to execute several different projects, they have meetings to attend, and there are frequent interruptions. And while it is a common misconception that multi-tasking is beneficial, studies of the brain have shown that we can, in fact, only concentrate on one thing at a time. According to this article, the more that we flip from task to task, the more time is lost for our brains to re-focus on that next thing, and we are more prone to make mistakes too. (This gets worse as we age, by the way.)
It really is more productive to pick one thing you will focus on for an extended period of time - and then further break that into smaller chunks with mini-breaks in between. Some people follow the Pomodoro Technique to do this effectively. I have not, but find I take breaks when I need to anyways (not all people will!)
Make it a regular habit of celebrating when you can see the progress being made. No one likes their work to go unnoticed, and it energizes people when they have been recognized for their efforts - even if there isn’t some physical or monetary reward associated with the praise.
Acknowledge the work done, give kudos to all involved, communicate it more broadly, and make sure that you connect the dots between where you were, where you are now, and how well aligned it is to get everyone to that end goal...
Oh ya - and don’t forget giving yourself some pats on the back too - you’ve done a fine job driving this bus!
This blog post is in response to Natalie’s 10 Day Freedom Plan Blog Challenge Day 5