by Leigh Ann Gowland, founder of Employee Driven Change
Have you ever considered the gifts you’ve gained while following your dreams? Despite the sometimes difficult journey as an entrepreneur we remain focused and inspired on creating successful businesses. Lessons from our journey provide personal growth to tackle the challenges of developing a business but also recognition of milestones achieved along the way.
I conduct lessons learnt workshops with my clients at the start or end of a project to recognise successes, best practices, short cuts and opportunities for improvement. Based on the feedback, growth and fulfilment I have watched my clients experience in these workshop; I encourage others to reflect periodically on their lessons learnt. To demonstrate the value of this process I took the opportunity to reflect on my personal lessons learnt through my journey.
1. Embrace our differences
Describing my job as a change manager usually prompts questions of doubt and looks of confusion. It would be easier to call myself a consultant and align to a more traditional understanding of how I earn a living. However, I am proud to be considered an independent change manager not only for the enjoyment and fulfillment I gain everyday from living my dream but for the lessons I have gained through this journey.
The most rewarding part of my job is getting to know individuals from different backgrounds, understanding how they experience and navigate change. Often the best solutions come from unexpected places. Diverse inputs contribute to pertinent and resilient change solutions within the context.
2. Confront challenges from different angles
Throughout my career I have been involved in many different projects across various industries with diverse challenges and successes. The success of projects can be attributed to many factors including sponsorship, budget and resource allocation. However, anyone who has worked on a project with a limited budget knows the success depends on the clarity of the vision and the dedication of the team. While working on a series of difficult projects with many challenges I was encouraged to explore new approaches and persevere. There are many ways to tackle a task but it is important to find the approach that best suits the context to promote the chances of success.
3. The power of listening
I am regularly invited to meetings where I have little context of the dynamic of the attendees or the history of the discussions. This allows for me to listen with an open mind and from a new perspective. By observing and listening I am afforded a wealth of information on the topic being discussed, options considered, opinions, silent resistors, strong advocates and hidden agendas. Based on the information gathered from listening I can engage resistors to understand their concerns, work with individuals to hear their opinions, facilitate understanding or negotiate compromise between parties to enable progress. When I am stuck on a project I remind myself to stop and listen. Fresh ideas and new perspectives from colleagues and team members allows me to become unstuck and consider new options.
4. Be honest and open
When trying to engage and motivate individuals to embrace a new change there is a natural tendency to create excitement with banners, balloons, cupcakes and merchandise. Rarely do these activities create interest and buy-in required by the project. A heartfelt presentation from a trusted leader or an authentic discussion with a direct manager or supervisor is usually more effective. Hearing about a change from someone you trust, experiencing the similar circumstances, thoughts and feelings reminds us we are not alone and that we can overcome challenges together.
5. Know your worth
Unfortunately, some change projects require restructuring or retrenchment. These are difficult projects because people are forced to make difficult decisions about their futures. However, in many circumstances those confronted with a retrenchment or job change often use this as an opportunity to explore their options and evaluate the own worth as more than their current jobs. Embrace the opportunity for change and recognise your value to the world in addition to your current roles.
Everyday my job as a change manager, entrepreneur and small business owner provides me gifts of learning. Take a moment to reflect on your lessons learnt not only to acknowledge your progress but to identify additional value you can create for your clients. Repeat the lessons learnt process every eighteen months to continually track progress from previous years and plan personal development for the year ahead.
Leigh Ann Gowland is an independent change management consultant and the founder of Employee Driven Change, and assists companies with large change initiatives while making change work for individuals. With fifteen years of experience in change management, human resources, and workforce transformation, she understands individual and business change across industries, projects and corporate cultures. Her approach to consulting and coaching styles is informed by Systems Theory and her passion for empowering others to understand and drive change and apply these skills.
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