The secret to staying on track
As more and more unit-based teams are launched and take up the work of partnership and performance improvement, it is inevitable some will stumble and backslide—providing a brand-new opportunity for learning. But while change can be difficult, it has identifiable stages of behavior and there are techniques for dealing with each phase.
Everyone goes through these stages, but not everyone goes through them at the same time or in the same degree:
- Denial. Indicated by indifference, disbelief, avoidance and withdrawal. This can be mitigated by offering the team a vision and strategies for change and by focusing on the long term.
- Resistance. Manifested by frustration, negativity, nostalgia, skepticism and a lack of willingness to participate. Deal with it by probing for underlying feelings and concerns; acknowledge and legitimize feelings; clarify the "Case for Change" and provide opportunities for the team to influence outcomes through their participation.
- Exploration. Manifested by curiosity, questioning, cautious excitement and slight optimism. Respond by acknowledging efforts and the struggle to change. Celebrate successes and endings. Provide opportunities for visible advocacy and provide opportunities for participation.
- Commitment. Shown through behaviors such as cooperation, excitement, high energy, confidence and by having team members take the initiative. Respond by providing guidance, support, recognition and feedback. Provide opportunities for leadership. Reinforce new behaviors and be careful not to overload or burn out your team.
Leaders and sponsors play an important role in the ongoing development of unit-based teams. The more leaders understand about where teams are in the developmental process and what they need to move to the next level, the more effective they can be in supporting forward momentum. The faster this process happens, the faster the team will see results.
Work with your colleagues to identify team status, strategize ways to help move the team forward and develop a plan for long-term sustainability. If your team is backsliding, use a root-cause analysis process to identify the reasons so the team can strategize solutions. If you have a resources team, regional facilitators or a UBT consultant available, ask for help.
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