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In my last blog, I seized on learnings from my family vacations about embracing organizational change. And in a previous blog series I discussed my thoughts on change processes and the need to manage change so that it doesn’t turn into chaos. In this blog, I’ll consider some activities that will help you successfully implement organizational change. Some of them may surprise you.

I will note that this blog is primarily addressed to those who are leading organizational change projects. In my next blog, I will offer some thoughts to the people who are simply trying to cope with the organizational changes that are coming at us with increasing speed.

1. Follow the organizational policies and procedures

We don’t need leaders who are sabotaging the policies and procedures in their organizations. It is okay to argue, debate, and resist new ideas. In fact, I highly recommend that teams engage vigorously. But after all the conflict is addressed and a decision is made, you need to support it. And that includes decisions on which policies and procedures to follow.

When leaders circumvent policies and procedures, the resulting confusion just adds unnecessary craziness to the workplace. If you don’t feel the policies and procedures are appropriate, work with your leadership to get them changed, but don’t stress out the team by being inconsistent or wishy-washy.

5 Surprising Ways to Implement Change at Work #leader #teamwork #projectmanagement #smartprojex Share on X

2. Build celebration into your process

One of the main jobs of project leaders is to keep the energy and commitment to the project going when things get tough. And they will. You need project processes that will help you do that. Building celebrations into the rhythm of the project is one tactic.

If you break down your project wisely in the beginning, you should be able to finish a meaningful amount of work during every sprint, giving you something to celebrate. For those unfamiliar with decomposing a project, I have a blog on how to break down a project.

Set up your project so that your team will regularly have causes for celebration. Then, enjoy some fun together.

3. Laugh together

Laughter goes a long way towards getting teams to relax and intellectually engage. So, look for ways to incorporate laughter. For example, you can begin meetings with a joke, or a funny story. Some of your team may not appreciate this effort and you’ll have to be the judge about whether it helps.

In an article in the Spring 2010 Harvard Mahoney Neuroscience Institute Letter, Scott Edwards discusses the nuanced distinction in the way the body processes humor and laughter, noting that “Humor is an evoked response to storytelling and shifting expectations. Laughter is a social signal among humans. It’s like a punctuation mark.” Scientists have only recently begun exploring the veracity of the expression, laughter is good for the soul.

Laughter goes a long way towards getting teams to relax and intellectually engage. What ways do you bring your team together especially when implementing organizational change? #teamwork #leadership #smartprojex Share on X

4. Build positive feedback into your processes

Life is full of so much negativity. We need positive influences in our lives and leaders need to work harder to build positive feedback into the process. If your teams don’t get together frequently that may be harder. You could try individual phone call messages to compliment someone on a job well done. Or a group text thread for disseminating encouraging news – particularly on project progress.

Your goal is to drive this project forward. And as your grandmother may have said, you get more flies with honey than with vinegar. So stay positive in your behaviors and go out of your way to use positive feedback with your teams.

5. Lessons learned

This one may surprise you. But to successfully implement any kind of change in an organization, you will need to experiment, fail, learn, and adapt quickly and repeatedly. Change is messy. It is not linear and predictable. If you aren’t paying attention to the lessons learned, you aren’t learning from them.

In his book, The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups, Dan Coyle writes about the Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB), an improv comedy group that uses a well-known and established comedy training method called the Harold. Unlike Second City and other first tier comedy clubs, UCB is obsessive about using the Harold. Most UCB folks would likely agree that, while it’s a brutal and excruciating process, the resulting familial bonds, trust, and teamwork improvements are worth the pain. And those improvements are critical to a team’s success when implementing change.

Too often when I review lessons learned registers, the lessons are trite and focused on what a great job some group is doing. That’s not the point. The point is to understand what we can and should be doing better. We need to know what’s working and what’s not working and adapt.

Project leaders should build a lessons learned discipline into their team processes. If you aren’t familiar with this, why don’t you check out my book – Project Management: Eight Lesson Crash Course Text?