Anyone who has ever been in a leadership role will tell you that change is one of the most difficult things to achieve. In some respects it should be easy. Yet more often than not it is a real struggle.
The thing is people have to deal with change all of the time. Most of the time people just take it in their stride and deal with it. Once in a while something comes along that in their minds feels significant.
A major organisational change is often one of the times when people feel anxious about change. The change can originate from a merger, an acquisition, a loss of market share or even a loss of funding if you are in the not for profit space.
So is it really possible to make change happen as a leader in Finance? While it might be challenging and at times frustrating at times, the key is to approach it in the right way.
The thing is it is so easy to fall into the same traps over and over again. These include:
Announcing the change out of the blue, telling people what is going to happen and then being surprised when you get a whole host of resistance. How motivated would you be if that was the approach that was taken with you on a change?
Throwing out a lot of good stuff because you want to show that you are the boss and in charge. In any organisation there is likely to be more going on that is working well than not working. If you are making a claim that it is all rubbish, chances are that your ego is getting in the way of doing what makes sense.
Underestimating the time it will take to make change. If you are use to working in broad concepts and ideas it is so easy to underestimate how long it will take. As a result you make promises and set schedules that can often be out of touch with reality.
Forgetting that it people that ultimately determine whether a change happens or fails to deliver. The truth is you can have the best tools, techniques, governance, methodologies available. On the other hand if you can’t get the engagement, buy-in and support of others then nothing is going to happen.
So what should you do to increase your chances of making change as a leader?
Be crystal clear about what you want to achieve and why you want to achieve. Most can articulate what they want to achieve but fewer can articulate why what they want to achieve is going to be the right path.
Get people involved at the start. There is little benefit in seeking views after all the big decisions have been taken. People are smarter than you think. They know when you are just going through the motions and paying lip service.
Be open minded and be willing to adapt. There are many ways to achieve what you want. Your views and ideas are shaped by your own experiences. Being open to different ideas of how to achieve the end result will make a difference.
Be realistic. Any change of any significance is going to take time. There really is no shortcut. Set stretching and challenging targets by all means but don’t set unrealistic targets otherwise people will just switch off.
Accept that there will be setbacks along the way. Any change worth doing will involve a lot of effort and is unlikely to progress smoothly every time. See setbacks as part and parcel of the path to achieving the best outcome.
Duncan Brodie helps accountants and professionals build the skills to achieve more career success. Learn more here.
Since 2006 I’ve worked with in excess of 6,000 accountants and professionals in workshops, seminars and one to one helping them land their next jobs and become better leaders, presenters and business partners. Before that I spent 25 years in accountancy climbing the career ladder from Payments Clerk to FD. I’m a CIMA Fellow, Certified Professional Coach and Team Coach Facilitator.