Tools to lead your team through change
Change stories are a simple yet effective tool to engage your team and bring them with you to achieve your practice’s goals. Learn how to create your own and share it with your team.
Change is constant
Be that in nature, the industry or your practice, we need change and evolution for animal health to move forward.
However, change can be tiring, confusing and sometimes just plain hard. We can stumble, get disoriented and lose sight of what matters most. If experiencing change is hard, leading through change is tougher still, when carrying the responsibility of others can feel heavier than usual.
Every practice is unique, but given everything that has been thrown at us in the last year, we all have one thing in common. That is, you have changed. It is unlikely that your practice is the same today as it was 12 months ago as we have evolved with our new environment. If your practice has changed, your goals and aspirations probably have too. But do all your team know that? By bringing your team with you, you will empower your team, reduce the burden for yourself, and be more likely to reach your desired destination.
We can all remember a good story
As a species, we have been using storytelling since the dawn of time as an effective communication method. They help each other to connect, engage and bring concepts or strategy to life.
Change stories can help us to refocus on where we are today, where we want to go, but most importantly, why. Creating your own change story and sharing it with your practice can inspire and motivate your team and bring cohesion. Bringing your team together towards a common purpose may be necessary if shift patterns have changed, or have staff on furlough.
Before you begin
We can all remember a good story or know a good storyteller. Before you start to write your change story, think about the last time you heard a good story. Was it the passion or the storyteller, their authenticity maybe, or was the story short and punchy?
Wherever you settle, your change story should be personal to you and your practice. There is no right or wrong answer; only the answer that is right for you.
Set aside a little time to write your change story. Remember this should come from the heart, so don’t spend too long on it. No more than 20-30 minutes.
5 step, easy to use format
The thought of creative writing can fill some people with dread, so here is a straightforward 5 step process to creating a change story. Try to write no more than three sentences for each bullet point.
1) To open talk about internal or external factors that are causing issues. This will help to set the scene. Complete the sentence ‘Due to…….’
2) Next, be clear on the behaviours, actions, or mindsets that need to change. Complete the sentence ‘We must…’
3) Then explain the consequences of not changing. Complete the sentence ‘If we do not…’
4) Describe how you and the practice will change. Complete the sentence ‘We will, therefore….’
5) It is then best if you clarified how will you know you achieved your goal. Complete the sentence ‘We will know we are successful when….’
Share your story
The objective of sharing your story is to engage your team. Before you share your story, it is essential that you create a safe space for your team to ask questions and give feedback, and that you are ready to actively listen to what they say.
How you share your change story with your team may vary depending on the dynamic and logistics of your practice. But here are a few suggestions.
Team meetings - Team meetings, in person or virtually are an excellent opportunity to tell your story. You can capture not just their comments but also gauge the body language and emotional reaction to your story in real-time.
One on One Conversation - If you are nervous about sharing your change story, starting with a small audience, before opening it up to the broader group me be a good option for you. Choose one or two members of your team to share your change story with and invite their feedback.
Internal newsletter or team email - If you have an internal newsletter or email group, you could opt to broadcast your change story. This method may help if your workforce is dispersed across multiple locations or working from home. The only limitation is in your opportunity to gather feedback from your team. You will need to be clear in the newsletter that you invite their input and actively solicit verbal feedback when conversing with your team.
Notice board - You could opt to share your change story on an internal notice board if you have one that is frequently read by your team. If you choose this method, you may need to think about any team members who may not see this important communication, for example, remote workers. If you share your change story via a notice board, make sure there is space for your team to add their thoughts and feedback.
Reinforce the change
A change story is not a ‘one and done’ exercise. To reinforce the change and bring your team with you, you will need to periodically resurface the change story and track your progress against your goal.
Lastly, don’t forget to celebrate your success! The team that pulls together, win together.