Everyone knows change makes most people uncomfortable, even those leading it. If you’re leading the change, your neck is on the line. If it succeeds, people will slap you on the back and comment that it was about time. If it fails, you take all the blame.
Hardly seems fair but it happens all the time.
Still, if the change you are leading is one that you know needs to happen for your chamber to continue to be successful in the future than it’s a sacrifice most chamber leaders are willing to take. But how do you survive a major change at the chamber like instituting tiered dues?
Chamber Change: How to Survive
Mike Myatt in writing on change for Forbes wrote, “If you’re not willing to embrace change you’re not ready to lead. Put simply, leadership is not a static endeavor. In fact, leadership demands fluidity, which requires the willingness to recognize the need for change, and finally, the ability to lead change.”
If you’re up for the challenge of chamber change, here’s how to survive it:
Understand the roles you will see.
Most often people act out the following roles. When you see them don’t be surprised and don’t take it personally. Just smile at how predictable the reactions to change can be:
- Victim, this reaction generally occurs because of a threat they feel such as losing their job or a favorite benefit of membership.
- Neutral bystander
Know that process is easier to change than people.
When you start switching out people, this damages morale. A company that wants to be thought of more as an innovative thought leader that fires loyal employees and replaces them with people with more experience, will soon be faced with problems of morale and many more “victims” because they’ll be worried that they are next.
A chamber that wants to change how it collects dues will generally have an easier time than one that wants to get rid of solopreneur memberships.
Communicate transparently with everyone all the time.
If you over communicate, people can choose to tune you out but if they’re not receiving enough information, they’ll likely begin to feel concerned over the outcome and the changes. In that instance, you’ve converted your neutral bystanders into victims.
Emotion trumps logic.
No, that’s not a typo. When it comes to change, people often aren’t acting logically so to try and appeal to their logic won’t help. Take a look at a presidential election. That’s a time of change. Even well-informed voters tend to be swayed by emotional causes and battle cries. Very few people cast their vote with the same scrutiny they would use in hiring someone. Often people can’t tell you details about a candidate’s background let alone what s/he thinks about issues. (Interestingly enough, the American Psychological Association just released stats that 52% of those polled found this election stressful. Change is stressful.)
If you are leading chamber change, communication and the ability to listen effectively are your best tools. Pay close attention to what is being said and do your best to interpret the meaning behind the words. Appeal to the emotions of change not the logic and you just might weather the challenge of leadership.