There was an uproar over the weekend about a poorly implemented change announcement on immigration.
Our intention is not to debate President Trump’s position on immigration but rather to showcase all the things made this a fantastic example of poorly communicated and ineffective change.
Here are Tips from Trump – what not to do when leading change:
1. Keep the Change a Secret – when a leader decides to implement a change, it is essential to socialize the change with the people responsible for the success of the change. This enables additional data points to be gathered and a coalition of support to get built. Everyone needs time to understand and adjust to change. Making a surprise announcement prevents coordination among the leaders who are responsible for implementing the change. We recommend that leaders communicate changes in advance to everyone who has a role in making the change successful.
2. Fail to Assess Impact – one of the consistent mistakes made in initiating change is to forget the people impacted by the change. Leaders love change. Their vision of the future state is so exciting that it compels them to share it. However, people may be impacted in ways that were never considered and create unintended consequences. Solid, systemic thinking demands that changes be evaluated in a larger context. For example, we are coaching a CEO who is completely changing the distribution of his primary product. This is impacting thousands of volunteers who are a critical part of the supply chain. Without understanding the impact of his intended change, this CEO could radically reduce sales and devastate his bottom line.
3. Assume Announcement Equals Change – just because you tell everyone about a change doesn’t mean that real change is going to happen. There was a flurry of activity and lots of protest about the executive order signed on Friday. Unfortunately, the stated goal of stopping terrorism is not going to be achieved. Announcing a change doesn’t mean the orchestrated steps to accomplish the goal are going to happen. For example, we are working with a company that just went through an acquisition and is working to integrate the two organizations. It’s less than a year into the blending of the two companies and there is a lot of work to achieve the synergistic outcomes promised by the business case. While it’s true that there is one executive team leading the change, the work is far from over. After the last all leader meeting, the CEO was ready to take on the next challenge rather than finish the integration change that was still in process.
4. Be Surprised by Resistance – all change creates resistance. Newton’s third law of motion is: For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. The question is never whether there will be resistance, it’s how you successfully manage the resistance. Use thoughtful change management to minimize resistance and accelerate the change. Don’t get caught by surprise. Give people space to understand and adjust to a change. While you may not have visible protesters in your organization, there will always be people who protest in a passive, engagement sucking manner. Don’t let the proverbial wind get sucked out of your change sails. Proceed full speed ahead by applying change management and overcoming expected resistance.
As a leader, if your intention is to create chaos, destabilize the organization and create shock and awe then you can follow the President’s approach to change. If you want to create lasting change then we suggest that you get others involved, pay attention to the impact the change has on people, make a plan beyond announcing the change and be prepared for resistance.