As anyone who has undergone a substantial transition knows, true adaptation is a marathon and not a sprint. If you’re facing a significant change within your organization, there will be good days and bad days. Some weeks will seem as if nothing is accomplished, and other weeks will follow where demands on your team’s energy will be at a fever pitch. The question becomes, how do you maintain momentum when change is gradual? How can you keep your team focused, motivated, and committed to the ultimate goal when the day-to-day seems overwhelming or just plain uninspiring?
How to Maintain Momentum
Kotter’s Eight Steps to Change model places tremendous emphasis on making efforts to maintain momentum by setting attainable benchmarks. Waiting until the entire change process is complete to celebrate or recognize accomplishments may leave only the leaders left believing in the original vision. Instead, creating “short-term wins” allows contributors at all levels to celebrate progress being made—even if that progress is made stepwise. All members of the team are able to see tangible progress and know that their contributions are having a significant impact.
Here’s why setting benchmarks can help fuel progress and maintain momentum:
It allows for self-reflection. Celebrating benchmarks allows the busy-ness of workplace activity to cease and team members to come together from different departments to acknowledge successes. Taking even a bit of time away from strategic planning or logistical disagreements or debates to look at what’s already been accomplished can have a tremendously positive effect on business morale, effectiveness, and productivity.
It maintains accountability. Knowing that short-term goals will be followed up on may make team members less likely to let them fall through the cracks. Deadlines and followups assigned to manageable tasks will help to keep changes from being too overwhelming, will make tasks easier to delegate, and will allow for more opportunities to make sure that everything is moving according to schedule.
It resets and rewards positivity. Short-term wins are the achievements of short-term winners. People who contribute to the change’s success deserve to be recognized for their contributions, and they can be hugely influential in motivating other team members to buy in to the change. Naysayers are less likely to be skeptical of the change when they see it working and paying off both for the team and for the individuals involved. Whether it’s an acknowledgement over e-mail or an award given at a staff meeting, a gesture of appreciation is an important part of creating short-term wins.
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