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Creating change while not in a position of power

One thing I have seen over the years is that every organization has issues in one way or another. Often times the people in charge don’t see or notice them but they can drive team members crazy. People often feel if they aren’t in a leadership position that they have to just put up with those issues. I don’t believe this to be true as you have more power than you think.

Being a leader doesn’t mean having a title and taking on change is one way to show your leadership abilities. Through this article I want to give you the tips and tricks to help you in creating change while not in a position of power.  

Identifying the problem

The first and most important step to creating change is to understand the underlying issues. This is not always easy as many situations are complex with multiple potential causes. It’s really important that you dig down into the problem to understand where it comes from. Fixing surface level problems might help in the short term but will result in the resurfacing of that problem in the long term.  For example, if some team members aren’t following a process or standard is it because they are a problem? Maybe it comes down to them not understanding the importance of it or perhaps the process is old and needs to be updated? Taking your time to understand where the problem lies will help in creating the change you’re looking for.

Build a plan

Once you’ve identified the issue you might think the next step is to bring it to your leadership. They probably have a list of things to accomplish and even if they add this one to the list it could take a while before anything is done if at all. The best approach is to create a plan of how to tackle the issue you’ve identified. Then present this plan to your leader for their approval and support. Even if they don’t support or agree with your plan at least you have tried to get them involved.

Your plan needs to be detailed and encompass a step by step plan of how to fix the underlying issue. To go back to the previous example, you discover that the process is outdated. Your plan should focus first on how you plan to update the process to meet present needs. Then how you plan to roll out the new process to your organization.

Teaching method

One method I have always used for teaching is a 4 step process 1. Telling someone what should be done – hosting a meeting or one on ones. 2. Demonstrating to them how it is done – demonstrating the new process in action. 3. Review them doing the new task – having them practice the new process.  4. Confirm that they are doing it over time – checking in with them over time. In your plan take a deep dive on this aspect write down everything from meetings, one on one sessions and so forth.

In any plan it’s important to plan for potential pit falls or negative consequences that come with change. Identifying upfront where resistance to change might occur will help you plan to overcome them.

Finally, build out how you will measure your change using metrics. Having indicators is important to see if your changes are working and can also help reinforce the importance of the change in your organization. Link these metrics to the business of the organization, specifically revenue or cost if you can. Showing that your change is beneficial to the success of the business will help people get onboard.

Pick your team

When implementing change, you need to have a team on your side. These people will be the early adopters of your change and champions. They will help support your push for change across the organization and reinforce the right behaviours. Begin your training with these selected people and work with them to find success. Putting in extra one on one with this team is worth the effort. As this team begins to find success, they will help in spreading the change throughout the organization. You can use their success stories as examples of the importance of change. They can also act as resources for other people in the organization so not all questions come to you. Having them take on responsibility will make sure you’re not overwhelmed.

Track your goals

As you move along your plan it’s important to keep up with your metrics. Tracking each step and your progression will help you to not only create change but keep it for the long term. Make these goals visible, letting people and your leadership know that you achieved them. By celebrating these goals it’s a constant reminder to keep pushing towards the new normal. If you’re not meeting them, they can be used to identify where you need to put more focus.

Be flexible

Even with the best plans and preparing for obstacles you will still encounter them. Murphy’s law exists for a reason and things won’t go as planned. Your meetings or classes won’t work as planned and it can be frustrating. The important thing to remember is to be flexible in your approach. If you’re not getting the expected response after a few weeks, then make a change. Being able to adjust on the fly and come up with creative solutions to the obstacles you experience will be key in implementing change.

There are always ways you can help create change in your organization. It doesn’t take being in a leadership position or even having their buy in at times. If you see something that needs to change don’t be afraid to take on the challenge. It won’t be easy but working hard at it and having a consistent effort will make it possible. Just remember the first step to creating change while not in a position of power is wanting to do it. Being a leader doesn’t require a title but it does require the desire to be one.  

How avansai can help

If you see issues in your current hiring process or are having trouble attracting talent, we can help. Having worked with many different organizations we can give you insights and suggestions to help improve your hiring process and help your organization attract top talent. Just reach out to Corey or me for advice or check out our Career Advice page for more insights.