Signals matter to employees, so signaling needs to matter to you. When you need to execute change within your organization, your employees will be looking for signals to help them make sense of what they should be doing, or if what they are doing is correct. As the leader, you have a disproportionate amount of power to shape your signals – or not. So supply your people with the right signals. Here are a few recommendations:
Tell Your People Exactly What You Want
You would think that this is an obvious first step in asking for change within your organization. But too many leaders are not clear enough about what they want – exactly – and what they hope to achieve by making the change.
One of the reasons leaders fail to signal the exact nature of the change they expect is that their team discussion is one based on tasks, instead of objectives. You must be absolutely clear on what you want to achieve. So keep it simple:
- Here’s why we need to change and why now is the right time
- Here’s the full extent of the change, not just the incremental steps
- Here’s how we’ll be measuring the effectiveness of the change
- Here’s how the change impacts our on-going efforts
Be the Personal Role Model of the Change
If you want your team to adopt and adapt to changes, you need to be front and center and effectively signal that you will be leading the way. Don’t expect your team to put any effort into new strategic changes unless they see the boss excited and modeling his/her behavior around the new change.
Effective signaling means you are consciously carving out time to demonstrate your personal commitment to the change in direction or strategy. Be seen, be heard, be the leader. Others will follow.
Signal Your Commitment by Effective Resource Allocation
How you spend your limited resources is, of course, vital to the company. But if you want to signal how important a specific organizational change is to your long-term growth or short-term marketplace adjustment, don’t scrimp on supplying the necessary resources. Money talks.
In conclusion, my experience of working within organizations that have ineffective leaders is that too often they send confusing signals during times of strategic change. In fact, they often get the exact opposite of the strategic change they’ve asked for! So consider the signals you are sending to your team – get them right and you’re on your way to effective change.