From Negativity to Opportunity: Strategies for Navigating Change
By Stacey Slaughter, CEO, NCTI

In 2017, NCTI brought together a panel of industry leaders and experts to share their thoughts and advice on how to navigate change and successfully acclimate teams.  The panelists were: Dr. Elizabeth Selzer of The Mentor Leadership Team, Maria Popo of Amp 10x, Matt McConnell of Comcast and Shane Portfolio of Comcast. This article is the amalgamation of that discussion.

Change is a topic that resonates with all of us as the industry is going through a tremendous shift. Specifically, consolidations, ever-changing technologies, the increase of device usage per household and redefining job roles to accommodate new services.

Change. For me, big change came when I bought NCTI.  In the first several months of ownership, I rebranded the company and moved us seven miles west.  No longer were we part of a bigger organization and gone were the days of unlimited resources.  Employee duties shifted, and everyone was responsible for doing more.  It was a BIG change for all of us, but through the process I learned how valuable it is to know how to effectively lead through change to minimize the negative impact and maximize opportunities.

Embrace and Lead
It starts with you.  As a leader, how you manage change sets the standard for your employees. Recognizing, understanding and transforming from someone who is fearful and unsure of impending change, to one who not only accepts it, but becomes an agent of change is essential to help others get on board.  This process can be achieved in many ways, but it begins by recognizing potential loss and addressing anxieties, and then progresses toward accepting change, seizing opportunities and transitioning into your new normal. 

Mitigate Fears and Anxiety
Two types of people emerge when you go through a change: roller coasters and merry-go-rounders.   Roller coasters are those who welcome change and merry-go-rounders are averse to it.  Roller coasters thrive on change and are your secret weapon to mitigating the anxieties of the merry-go-rounders.  Take advantage of your roller coasters, make them your change ambassadors.  With their enthusiasm, you can normalize processes, limit disruptions and create an ecosystem that reflects the positive aspects of the change. 

Merry-go-rounders are not a lost cause.  Head their negativity and apprehension off at the pass by being positive, arming them with the tools they will need to be successful and, most importantly, communicating!  We all know perception is reality so the more you communicate with your teams the less likely they are to make their own assumptions. 

In summary, as you are faced with change within your organization, it’s important to be mindful of what your employees might be going through.  Lend an empathetic ear.  Acknowledge their feelings while being careful not to discount their emotions.  If they are happy about the change, rejoice in their excitement!  If you sense trepidation, recognize this loss and do your best to show how the change can benefit them.  If your employees know you are in the trenches with them, then traversing the change will become easier.

Be Proactive
With change come opportunities to fortify processes and procedures and practice preventative maintenance.  The more you can anticipate roadblocks, setbacks and changes in priorities, the easier change will be.  Identify each person’s responsibilities, implement a thoughtful process of communication and become more agile.  According to Project Management Institute’s Pulse of the Profession® In-Depth Report: Organizational Agility, “Organizations effective at change management are more agile, not only reducing the impact of external changes, but also capitalizing on the opportunities they may present.”

Be proactive in anticipating change.  Hire people with solid problem-solving skills who work well with others. The more roller coasters on your team, the less stressful change will be.  Do spot checks a couple levels down to make sure all your employees are ok and really get to know your teams.  Be observant and don’t ignore potential warning signs from individuals.  Make sure your employees see you and hear you on a consistent basis, keep them updated and acknowledge how they are doing.  Finally, be the north star. Assume responsibility and accountability and instill a sense of pride in your employees for the work they do. If the company believes it, the customers feel it!

Transformative Leadership
Dr. Elizabeth Selzer of The Mentor Leadership Team describes authentic leadership as, “Others focused.  You work for your followers.  Your job is to help them become better, not the other way around.” Dr. Selzer goes on to say by practicing authentic/transformational leadership, you become humble, authentic and transparent.  Trust your employees and encourage a family-oriented and genuine environment. Lastly, when communicating to your employees, be thoughtful about the messages you deliver.   

By no means do I guarantee a seamless transition, but by applying these principles, you are taking the right steps toward a more positive journey for you and your team.  As the adage goes, “Change is inevitable, growth is optional.” Choose growth, however that looks, for both you and your team. 

 

About Stacey Slaughter
Stacey Slaughter is Chief Executive Officer of NCTI, which provides industry-leading training and sophisticated learning tools for the cable and broadband industry. She leads the company’s efforts to help clients achieve measurable results through actionable, timely and relevant learning.  For more information, visit www.ncti.com

 

 

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