When you hear the name Benjamin Franklin, a few thoughts may come to mind: Founding Father, publisher of Poor Richard’s Almanack, abolitionist, face of the $100 bill. We’re guessing you don’t equate him with effective and strategic change management.
Yet, how he communicated and achieved his goals (all while bringing the American public along with him) are some of the reasons his legacy lives on.
So what is change management, and how can Benjamin Franklin teach us to manage change well?
What is Change Management?
Change management, simply put, is an enabling framework for managing the people-side of change. With that comes not only communicating that change is coming, but also supporting people through the transition. This support and employee buy-in significantly increases the chance of success for the team.
When reading about change management, you’ll find references to the steps the organization went through to bring employees along on the change management journey.
Oftentimes change is hard, but changing people’s minds is harder.
What Did Benjamin Franklin Know About Change Management?
While Benjamin Franklin may not have used the specific term “change management,” he knew how to influence others to help them embrace and adopt change.
Below we break down five of his famous quotes relating to effective and strategic practices and what we can learn from them.
The most important thing about change management comes in knowing you are the one who has to do the changing first — totally and completely. If you can’t make the shift in your head, it will be impossible to make it in others’ heads. In other words, you need to practice what you preach and model the behavior and mindset you’re expecting from others.
After you have reflected on what, how, and where you will start with change, ask yourself: Am I ready to change?
- What will I do differently?
- How will I lead differently?
- How will I continually communicate?
- Who will be a part of the team of people that will help me? Are they ready to change?
We understand that leaders and employees aren’t exactly enemies, but they do have two very different perspectives when it comes to day-to-day schedules, business strategy, and workplace culture.
It’s important to gain (and use) honest feedback in order to execute effective and strategic change management.
Start by asking your employees what they think about working at your organization.
And then be ready for all the answers.
Take them seriously and as directives for your future. Ask questions about how employees feel about communication and challenging authority. Ask feedback on how mistakes are handled, teams are formed, and if believe they are heard by leadership.
If the answers to the questions are very positive, drive for areas where people think things can be improved. There are always opportunities.
It’s impossible to change something if you don’t really know what you’re changing, and you can’t know until you ask. Even the most connected people in leadership learn something new when they ask people to give them honest feedback. Just the act of being curious about what your employees think is a huge step in the right direction.
Once you understand where your organization is, you can then lay over the top of that what your goal is, and the path to get there is a great deal clearer. You have also taken the first step in engaging your employees because their responses should have a direct effect on what, how, and where you start with your change initiatives.