Change is hard work. And people should be recognized for making progress on the journey to behaviors that are new to them.
We’d spoken about the move from awareness to understanding to adoption to ownership. More important is the emotional journey that individuals take from shock, confusion, fear, anger, whatever (depending on how the message is delivered and the type of preparation they’ve been able to do) to understanding, belonging, possibility and optimism. Change managers and organizational development specialists can support employees along the way and minimize unproductive downtime in what a colleague of mine has called the “valley of despair.”
As individuals and teams make progress in the implementation of a new program, system or process, or even settling into a new organizational structure, it’s important to recognize that progress. Take the time to celebrate small wins and the completion of major milestones. Encouragement builds confidence and breeds future success, so let people know they’re doing well and are on the right track.
It’s easy to get caught up in day-to-day firefighting and the demands of delivering a project on-time. Take a break and smell the coffee. Give specific feedback when you see people doing things right.
We frequently say that people are our biggest asset… so let’s treat them as such. As another colleague reminds me constantly… the word “appreciate” means to increase in value. By recognizing effort and progress along the way, we increase the value our people feel about themselves and their work… give the desired change a better chance of sticking.