A Challenge of Change

Have you become exhausted by the Relay Race of Change?

What is it? The Relay Race of Change occurs when leaders have an idea and decide to implement it. The implementation of an idea always creates change. Leaders work through their personal change process, wrestling with the idea and making peace with it. Then they pass the idea along to the managers. Managers go through the same change process, taking time to understand then accept the idea. Finally, managers hand off the idea to employees. – but by that time leaders are already on to a new idea and asking “Why don’t they get it? Why are they so slow to change?”

The Relay Race of Change plagues most organizations. It creates frustration for everyone, and is a huge change challenge – especially when leaders are passing off one change after another. Here are three things to remember to win the relay race:

  1. It takes time – leaders must recognize that as their changes (ideas) cascade down through the organization everyone needs time to absorb, understand and then adopt the change. Change is a personal process that each manager and employee needs time to go through.
  1. It takes repeating – it takes five to seven repetitions of an idea for it to stick. Remember that actions speak louder than words. So whenever possible, leaders must make sure that their actions support the change.
  1. It takes patience – new ideas are exciting, but leaders must pace themselves and the amount of change that they introduce. When multiple changes are needed, leaders should consider how to bundle them and introduce them in a congruent manner.

If you are feeling challenged by the Relay Race of Change, the first step is acknowledging that everyone is in a different place. Next, take the time to make sure that the idea is clearly understood and absorbed at all levels of the organization. Finally, be thoughtful when introducing new change; make a link to the previous change so that everyone can “connect the dots.”

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