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Embracing Change - Winning Hearts and Minds

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For many organizations, resistance to change makes the implementation of new innovations and technology extremely difficult. Even if an innovation is approved, the process is so lengthy and cumbersome that it is likely that by the time it’s ready for deployment the technology is no longer ‘new’ and the whole effort is deemed a waste of time and money.

How to avoid this predicament? Employ a change management strategy. If that seems easier said than done, think again. Throughout my career, I have focused on implementing new programs and initiatives. These are the seven key techniques that I’ve seen actually work:

  1. Vision- Create a vision for change that includes an achievable goal and strategy. Fear of the unknown and unease about the scale of a new challenge, especially one that's disruptive and not clearly understood, is a common reaction. And can you blame the fearful? When people don't understand the vision, they instinctively fight back rather than try to piece it together themselves.
  2. Sponsorship- You need someone to have your back when you are trying to change people's mindsets. If you can get strong sponsorship and buy-in early, it will help you get your stakeholders to stay engaged for the long haul.
  3. Energy level - This is my favorite technique. It is so easy to lose traction when something goes wrong and you feel like giving up. Everyone around you can sense it. If you show how discouraged or bummed out you are about a task, why would anyone else want to keep staying engaged? The trick is to fake it till you make it. Stay positive and know that things happen but the only thing you can control is your emotions.
  4. Thoughtfulness - Think the project through. Plan it out. Get expert judgment on various tasks. Look at the project from various perspectives.
  5. Ambassadors - These can be your peers, team, customers, or anyone really. You need these ambassadors to be your advocates and tell people how amazing the project is. The sad truth is, no one can do everything themselves and you need these advocates to help spread the word.
  6. Feedback- Ask for feedback, listen to feedback, and act on feedback. There is nothing worse than being asked for feedback and providing it only to find nothing was done with it. Make sure you always follow up on feedback to prevent this scenario. Also, being inclusive helps drive a solution that is sustainable and effective.
  7. Continuous improvement- Always look for improvements, which anchor the change into the culture.

There is no cookie cutter solution for a successful project or change. But having a framework in place will make it easier for stakeholders to support and implement new ideas. Hopefully these techniques can help you build a culture of excitement and buy-in with far-reaching results.

Lekshmy Sankar is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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