1) A violent or sudden change or disruption; 2) The act or an instance of lifting or rising up, esp. forcibly; 3) An upward displacement of part of the earth’s crust.
Recognize that basic leadership skills are more important than ever. Even in our wired world. Much of what we learned at some distant point no longer applies. Yet, no matter how quickly decisions must be made and implemented leaders still need to achieve their goals with numbers of very smart people on board and behind them. There is no way to trick people on this point even if we are all moving more quickly
Be aware that not everyone embraces upheaval. While leaders may feel that “advances in the industry” are positive, sometimes employees will see new technology as representing a scary skill set not easy for them to acquire. It may have them conclude their life’s work is worth nothing, because everything they know is no longer valuable or necessary. They could feel left out in the cold…
Teach people gently that we cannot avoid upheaval. Rather than have reluctant employees valiantly try to resist change at every turn, recognize their fears and work with them to gently adjust to the coming inevitabilities. Nothing changes about the imperative for increased speed and productivity. However, leaders can use approaches that respect differing levels of comfort with upheaval.
Be certain that employees know their value to your business. Make absolutely certain that those who have difficulty coping with upheaval know how much you value their wisdom and personal contribution. Reassure them that while technology might alter what they do, they will not have to change everything about how they work. They can transition over time and remain part of an extraordinary team.
Prepare people to cope with the changes upheaval brings. For instance, send them for training, at the company’s expense and during working hours well ahead of time to start to prepare for changes. Buy them cards saying “way to go” every time they attempt to learn a new skill. Create positive situations to publicly praise these individuals for every step they take to make progress.
Appoint the reluctant as “process coaches” to assist others. Encourage these individuals to work with the staff to ensure that technology changes, for example, do not become a substitute for a “personal touch”. Use their gifts to balance “high tech with high touch”. Let everyone know you need more than ever the attitudes and motives of all kinds of employees to succeed in a climate of upheaval.
Balance sets of apparently competing scales. For example, the need to be “in control” while staying receptive – or, the impetus to be quick to decide and yet reflective. Like a true paradox, both sides demand equal attention by causing a constant push-pull between these polarized priorities. That is why no one specific leadership style can any longer be uniformly effective.
Apply the most appropriate leadership style to rapidly changing conditions. If your organization is moving in “web time”, so too will any problems you face! No matter how great the stress engendered by the “need for speed”, leaders must still take responsibility for slowing down long enough to respond to each individual’s needs, one person at a time. This “slow down” approach ultimately allows you to go fast.
Questions For Reflection
When in your life have you wounded someone’s soul in the name of progress, even if it was not intentional? Are there repairs to be made?
What is one immediate action you will take with a ‘resistant’ team member?
How can you harness the wisdom of longer-tenured employees to help you avoid the pitfalls of poor execution of the “need for speed”?