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simple lip service to colleagues during intense change. People want to be giv- en a voice, share their feelings, discuss their opportunities and challenges, and have someone to be fully present and hear what they have to say. Truly listen to them on an empa-

thetic level without trying to talk over them, don’t make assumptions about what they’re saying, or give unwanted advice. Listening is an overlooked skill that differentiates a good communicator from a great communicator. Active listening is about not just listening to the words, but also be- ing aware of body language, noticing emotion, feelings and intuition and, importantly, re- flecting these back to the person you are listening to. Showing people you’ve heard them during times of change is critical, as is demonstrating that you are acting on what you have heard. Truth-telling is

another important skill

for leaders. Being honest and speaking your truth is a powerful skill to build trust,

collaboration and support change. Giving leaders a language to share what they think and feel, and building the courage to reflect back what they see, hear and are aware of, engenders openness and honesty, which can be very empowering in times of change. Another key skill is laser question- ing – asking clean, clear questions to help people drill down to the source of issues. Tese are like a beam that gets to the root of a situation. Most leaders are aware of the importance of open questions, but many ask questions starting with ‘why’ (why did you do that?) which can put people on the defensive, creating a parent/ child dynamic (often unintentionally). A better question, asked in a

curious tone of voice, tends to start with ‘what’ or ‘how’ (what caused you to do that?) to generate a productive adult/adult conversation which can lead to quick breakthroughs and

‘lightbulb’ moments. Silence goes

hand-in-hand with laser questioning. Allowing a question to land and giving people time to answer without interrupting can be a challenge for some. Te more powerful the ques- tion, the greater the need for silence and listening afterwards.

Potential derailers of change

While organisations appear to be more agile at managing change, any organisation is always at risk from the potential derailers of change, especially during challenging times when it is easy to fall into old ways, or styles of management due to workloads and time. Tese potential derailers of change are people- or change-leadership related. Te first of these is a

dependency culture, which is more often associated with a command and control (rather than a coaching) leadership style, with hierarchical management, rather than a flat structure, where leaders like to have control and influence over others, exert their expertise and can withhold information, micro-managing and making people dependent. To avoid this, directors and

managers need to learn to develop the skill of delegation, letting go of the need to control and learn- ing how to support and empower people by clarifying expectations and holding them to account. Isolation and silo working can also

be a massive derailer, triggered by the cultural climate or communication systems within the organisation. Without access to, or knowledge of, the bigger picture and other people’s ideas, isolated individuals or teams can be even more resistant to change. Communication, collaboration and high performance team working will help to avoid this risk. Another danger is a blaming culture, which can be common in

large organisations. Tis reduces the effectiveness of the individual, destroys creativity, innovation and appetite for

change and risk.

Focusing on what needs to be done despite temporary

setbacks can help people build resilience by using their

strengths and motivators. A key antidote to blame is

developing a systems approach within an organisation. Developing an agile mindset and understanding that making mistakes can be the best way to learn is crucial during times of accelerated change. Another red flag is an over-busy

management style, often symptomatic of more controlling leaders, or a perennially busy manager who fails to delegate, to say no and never stops to ask why. Anyone guilty of this would benefit from learning to think more strategically and prioritise tasks and projects to avoid just busy ‘doing’ rather than really managing change by developing the skills of planning, strategic time management, listening and coaching. UK plc’s success in the years ahead

will be down to people, not processes, and employees must be involved throughout every stage of change initiatives. We need to understand their individual motivators and assign key tasks that light their inner fire. Enabling personal ownership and empowerment will give greater control and lessen the stress that can be felt during times of change. So, is your organisation ready to embrace change?

Carole Gaskell is MD of Full Potential Group, a specialist in high-impact coaching, team and leadership development. Carole can be contacted at info@fullpotential or @FullPotentialGr

Reference 1 Full Potential Group’s ‘State of Leadership & Change Report’ 2016 surveyed 1,000 management respondents split equally across large and SME businesses.

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