Project Tips: Leadership through Turbulent Times

Are you experiencing major changes in your business or organization? Well, if you are not now you probably will soon. Working in technology companies, the only guarantee is “Change will happen”. There are some common steps that you can take as a leader to help navigate through the change and help your project and team thrive and survive it. This is not easy, so please don’t think that is intent of the article. I just want to provide some tips to help along the way. You must be committed to make things happen and drive successfully.

– What qualities will it take?
Focus, Tenacity and resources are the key working through massive changes. Cultural changes can be some of the most difficult for organizations and often managers declare victory when the change effort was anything but that. There was slim evidence to support the claims. If a project I am working is held accountable for the success, I sure want to make sure the team is taking the right steps and driving activities to have strong evidence of succes. It is the key to proving the team made it happen.

– Start with accepting the difficulty of the task. Do your homework. You will encounter problems when you stop listening to other team members and stakeholders. There needs to be an overwhelming amount of credible information that visible throughout the changes. Bring in information from external customers as a way to quiet the internal noise or disputes about what reasons are. Internally, you can survey people to get information about where to focus your efforts, how to communicate through changes. It is tough to ignore the voice of the customer.

– Establish a sense of crisis. When people are spending time trying to figure out why change is happening, your communication is not sufficient. There needs to be a compelling case created, use customer examples, industry info, market info, financial info and make sure that there is crystal clarity on why there is a crisis and why things must change. Show that existing success will vanish because of the situation and what objectives will be of the change and what plan is to make sure it happens.

– Create a business strategy with direction info the entire team can translate to business they know. All change should be based on business strategy as that is the hard reality of why chang is happening. It needs to be driven be the marketplace. This is also the quickest way to move a company to change. The art is to build a sustainable future and what are the programs and projects that will be needed to delivery on the strategy rapidly.

– Align people and support systems. This is when the message becomes real. When you can look around or talk to people and observe behavior and hear the impacts, questions, doubts. People are going to have to do things in a different way than before. As the leader, your challenge is to overcome inertia of watching what happens. You want to discourage the business as usual way and encourage working in the new model. Encourage contribution and the new opportunities that will be driven to meet the market needs.

– Keep everyone informed and involved. This is a constant cycle every day, week to focus on through every change. Bringing people in for personal involvement will give them feeling of ownership of the change. Working behind closed doors and bringing out the end result is a sure way to surprise and cause a tough battle to overcome inertia. Look for people who play a role as key centers influence within organization.

How you manage through change does greatly influence the success or failure. You must be resilient and maintain candor as you will see and say many things. People will be looking to you for direction, communication and leadership. Be an enthusiastic evangelist of the future, your optimism and hope is important to show so people can see a glimpse of where we will get to. At the end, the ultimate payoff for high performancea and delivering success are exceptional financial results and more stakeholder value. Just remember when you are in uncharted territory, that it will require big thinking, learning from others, and staying agile during turbulent times. Its not always easy, but each time you look back you realize that leaps were made and it is well worth the journey. Make it Happen!

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