If your change is big, it is only a matter of time before you’ll be stuck. It may be early on. Or, things may seem to be on track and moving along when suddenly they start going awry. Or, you may be moving toward the finish line when progress just stops, or even begins a backslide.
So, if stuck happens, what do you do to get unstuck?
What you shouldn’t do is:
- Shoot the messenger
- Start pointing fingers and finding blame
Begin by finding a quiet place…seriously. When stuck happens, don’t jump into action. At best, you may fix some symptoms.
Start with some thoughtful reflection. What is it that is telling you that the change is stuck? Is it a feeling? Are there symptoms that you can call out, put your finger on? Are there actual metrics?
You may want to write them down, white board them, put them on stickies… But don’t jump up and try to fix them. Remember, what you are seeing are symptoms, not the “thing” or “things” that are actually threatening change success.
What you need to uncover is the root cause. This may require you to look at the symptoms through a variety of lenses. Is it that the intent of the change isn’t clear, and different people are–in fact–working on different versions of the same change? Is it that people are shaking their heads Yes while waiting for the change to go away…they are not truly committed to it? Is it that the change is a really, really good idea, but you and/or others don’t see it as imperative? Is it that people just don’t have the capacity for yet one more change? Is it that they have put all of the things that are needed in place, but haven’t planned for–or worked on–the needed changes in thinking and acting that will actually deliver the benefits of the change?
Ask questions. Dig deeper. If it will help, find someone who is not invested in the success of the change to help you explore the reasons you are stuck.
What you are really digging for are not the behaviors that have brought the change to this point, but the mindsets that are driving those behaviors.
Stuck is the result of how you and/or others are thinking about the change, and what is being done (or not) as a result of that thinking! If you only work to change the behaviors, you will find yourself stuck again…perhaps even more deeply than you are now.
Once you understand why the change has become stuck, you can figure out a path to getting it back on track. You may need to go back to the beginning, starting with developing greater clarity about the change. (I have seen this be the case, even in Fortune 50 companies.) It may mean that you need to let go of things, or people, that you have been holding onto for many years. it may mean that you need to strengthen the consequences: positive for those who are actively supporting the change, and negative for those who are not. It may mean any number of changes in thinking and action required of you for the change to become unstuck.
Whatever it means, plan it. Then do it.
If the change is really that important, then as difficult as it may be to get unstuck, you are going to have to take the necessary action. Even though the cost of doing so may be high, the cost of not doing so will be even higher.
Stuck happens. Becoming unstuck is up to you.
What have you done when you have found your changes stuck? What has, or hasn’t, worked? Comment below. Thanks!