by Zach Montroy
Here’s one thing you can count on – life will change. Will you be resistant to change, or open to the benefits it can bring? More importantly…how does your team respond to change? As the leader of your organization, you know that change – when mishandled – can derail entire companies. Without skill and tact, unsupported change can lead to resistance, setbacks, and missed opportunities. Today, we’ll delve into the importance of managing change with intention – for both you and your team.
Poor Change Management = A Nightmare
I bet you’ve been part of an organization that didn’t do well with change. Maybe you had a boss that simply dumped new information on everyone like a bucket of cold water. Maybe you worked under leaders who simply refused to communicate change, relying instead on the office grapevine instead of having upfront conversations. You’ve likely worked alongside colleagues who resisted change with every fiber of their being…and suffered greatly for it. No doubt you’ve tried to deal with team members who resist any (and every) change you implement almost on principle.
I find the work of thought leaders like Lisa Lahey, Adam Grant, and Amy Edmondson to be incredibly helpful in helping teams (and their leaders) navigate change.
Immunity to Change: Overcoming Hidden Barriers
Lisa Lahey co-authored this book, and it’s an important resource in my work with teams. Immunity to Change highlights the significance of uncovering and addressing our individual and organizational “immune systems” that resist change. Like the body’s internal processes, our mental “immune system” acts without rationality as it tries to “protect” us from something it perceives as a threat.
Once you can understand that this reaction isn’t logical, but instead rooted in our beliefs, values, and fears, you can start to unpack the why behind resistance. What’s next? Create a psychologically safe space for your team to explore their assumptions, challenge their limiting beliefs, and experiment with new behaviors. This isn’t a time for top down mandates – it’s a time to deep deep and help folks understand what’s really going on beneath the surface.
Thinking Again: The Power of Critical Thinking
Adam Grant’s book Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know is one of my favorites to help leaders encourage a culture of continuous learning and open-mindedness. If your organization becomes complacent in their existing knowledge and beliefs, it will inhibit their ability to adapt and innovate. By embracing critical thinking, questioning assumptions, and seeking diverse perspectives, leaders can foster a culture of intellectual humility, agility, and resilience. This mindset enables organizations to challenge the status quo, identify blind spots, and adapt quickly to change.
Basically – if you prepare your company well, there won’t be any surprise when change comes. It’s just part of the DNA of your team.
Psychological Safety: Creating a Supportive Environment
Amy Edmondson’s work is woven throughout all of my own. Amy’s given language to a concept that’s vital to all leaders. Her idea of psychological safety says that if people can express ideas, take risks, and make mistakes without fear of negative consequences, they’ll be empowered. When people feel psychologically safe, they’ll contribute their unique insights, challenge existing practices, and openly discuss concerns or failures. This is how organizations can continue to evolve in a healthy way. It’s also a culture that you, as a leader, can create.
The Importance of Intentional Change Management
How does the Intention Collective implement the work of these folks? When we teach intentional change management, we talk about these three key elements – uncovering hidden barriers, critical thinking, and psychological safety – to drive successful organizational transformation. By adopting an intentional approach, organizations can:
a) Develop a Clear Vision
Clear is kind. People need to understand exactly what’s happening, and why.
b) Foster Stakeholder Engagement
Change isn’t an authoritarian exercise. Instead, actively involve key stakeholders throughout the change process. This involvement creates a sense of ownership, promotes buy-in, and reduces resistance.
c) Build a Change-ready Culture
Encourage a culture of continuous learning, curiosity, and adaptability. Build it into your DNA.
d) Provide Resources and Support
Equip employees with the necessary resources, tools, and training to navigate and adapt to change. Additionally, provide ongoing support and coaching to help individuals overcome challenges and develop new skills. (Pro-Tip: This is exactly what we do at The Intention Collective).
This Isn’t Easy
If you’re feeling frustrated or burned out in your efforts to implement this kind of cultural shift in your organization, know that you’re not alone. Our work at The Intention Collective can come alongside you in your efforts. Reach out to see how we can work together.