Even though change is an inevitable part of growth and development, people are still innately afraid of it because of the uncertainty it brings. It’s in our very nature to fear the unknown which is why taking big risks to work on a new system and encouraging people to take those risks with you is more difficult than actually tackling them on your own. So, how do you promote radical change in a risk-averse environment? What do you have to do to foster transformative change in an organization?
Work incrementally, starting from smaller risks.
The best thing you can do when dealing with risk aversion is to start small while working towards bigger risks incrementally. The problem starts when your team members think that the system you currently have still worked perfectly, so there’s really no need to change anything. To go around this, you’ll have to show them proof (statistics or case studies) before you can ask them to try a different approach. By showing them evidence, you’re making the risks less scary than it would initially appear.
Be transparent about the risk.
When you’re clear about the risks, people are more likely to listen to what they need to do next to limit those risks. Do not sugar-coat or over-hype the benefits, nor should you give them vague expectations. Estimate all the possible outcomes that could happen and brainstorm how you can go through all those scenarios. Setting benchmarks helps them grow out of their fear of the known and showing them that these risks are a part of the reality that the team needs to deal with.
Don’t make it too personal.
Organization leadership means you’re leading change for the benefit of your team and encouraging them to make decisions on their own. However, making big decisions that can leave either a positive or negative impact on the team will make people pause and hesitate, especially if they know they will be responsible for that impact. One simple way of motivating people to continue proposing innovative ideas is by rewarding them regardless of their proposal’s outcome. Instead of pointing fingers and asking who started a project that failed to deliver actual results, ask this instead, “What can we do to avoid a similar scenario, and what steps can we take to mitigate the damage?”
Make it relatable.
There is one important thing you should remember in change management. When you are creating alternative systems or introducing change in an organization, people will be afraid of being innovated out of the team or being left behind. Everyone knows that there are repercussions to the changes going on around them. Think of those involved in the project, what they have at stake, and clearly show them that the proposal will also benefit them in the long run. Explain to them how it will affect them and how these changes will benefit the team.
Acknowledge tradition, but don’t let it trap you.
Remember to always respect the established systems that were set before you proposed a new strategy. These systems helped your organization achieve the milestones you currently have, but you also have to remember you shouldn’t let tradition pave the way for stagnation. Don’t let the previous systems trap you because by doing so, you are only setting yourself up for maintaining your team’s current standing.
Organizational leadership encourages people to think outside the box. When you cultivate this mindset, you build a group of individuals who are more open to successful changes and more likely to take calculated risks beneficial to all.