It does not matter what level of management or leadership you are in – change WILL NOT happen if you are leading a group of people that do not have a sense of urgency to change. That’s the key to inspiring change. As their leader, you will not get your team to move one single step toward achieving your vision of change unless the organization or your team understands why it needs to be done.
People, being people, will dig in and resist any and all forces of change unless there is a reason to go on the journey. I call this a “Burning Platform” (imagine you were standing on a wooden platform suspended high above the ground and the platform is on fire. It would not take you long to figure out that you need to do something to get off that platform!). If you have a “Burning Platform” in your organization (the business is losing money, customers are churning at record numbers, or revenue is not happening, or all of the above..), it’s not going to do your employees any good hiding this from them. I mean, I have seen business that were literally a day or so away from bankruptcy and the team members were still fighting change initiatives to save the business, because they didn’t understand the change.
Now, I don’t mean to scare everyone by saying: “we’re going bankrupt, and you all might be out of a job soon – quick do something about it!” What I mean is you need to create a sense of urgency that the team will understand. This is most often accomplished by getting the team to understand the reason WHY the change is required and then – most importantly – link that reason to their own well being. Or, put another way, answer the question: “What is in it for me if I agree to this change?” Seems simplistic, I know, but… people are people, and they will always think about how anything they face impacts them personally.
And… the reason why change needs to happen, does not have to be a threat (do this or you will lose your job). It can be something very basic such as creating a process, which will make their lives easier.
As a leader you get the reasons required because you have seen the data, recognized the problem, have had time to digest it, seen a vision for the solution, and know what needs to be done.
Your team has not had the same luxury. They need you to lead them through a process where they can see the problem, understand the negative effects and the challenges, so they can be involved in the solution.