We all want better results, but way too few are willing to endure the process that will bring those results. After all, that means change and change is, well, it's hard.
Change will always make people fight. As a leader, it's your job to make sure your team fights with you and not against you.
Knowing that they will have a fight on their hands, we see way too many examples of agency owners/leaders holding back, not bringing the necessary change to their agencies. Of course, they are simply delaying the inevitable. The industry is changing (hell, the world is changing) and those who don't get out in front of the change are, at best, going to find themselves playing catch up, or, most likely, no longer playing the game.
Let's talk about the things you need to do to ensure your team is fighting with you, instead of against you, once you decide it's time to bring the necessary change.
Your team will fight with you when you . . .
Take the time to explain exactly Why the change is needed – The reasons need to be as big picture and detailed as possible. Explain how it will enable you to make a greater impact on the business of your clients (give specifics); or how it is critical to help ensure the agency's survival in light of the current challenges (again, give specifics). And, don't assume they understand what it will mean for them personally (don't stop with the specifics here).
Plan for How you are going to successfully implement – No matter how idealistic/motivating the reason for the change, you will lose your team if you can't lay out a detailed plan of how the change initiative will be successful. Without a clear path to successful implementation, they will choose to stay on the path that is most familiar.
Demonstrate your understanding of What resources are needed and commit to their procurement – Nobody will willingly go into "battle" unarmed.
Demand accountability from everyone involved – If you don't, your team will assume that, if the change initiative isn't important enough to hold people accountable for its execution, then it must not truly be all that important.
Don't stop talking about the change until it has been successfully implemented - Provide regular progress reports, discuss openly any adjustments to the implementation plan, and remind the team constantly of where you are and what comes next. Bottom line: communicate anything and everything. Yes EVERYTHING! They would rather have bad news and deal with it as a team than to have no news and suffer in silence.
Your team will fight against you if . . .
You fail to provide any of the above - If you fail to provide any of the above to your team, you will have a fight on your hands, a fight in which you will be outnumbered. Not only will you lose that fight, you will lose your leadership credibility and the respect of your team.
It's easy to want the improved results that come with change, but it's another thing entirely to own the actions it takes to have them. Bringing change to your agency is not for the faint of heart, it takes a lot of hard work. However, most agencies have no choice given the challenges we are facing as an industry. It's a fight we can't avoid, and it is too scary to not do what it takes to have your team fighting with you.
Photo by Nana B Agyei.