USAA Tips: Military skills are invaluable for mastering workplace change

Content provided courtesy of USAA | By Chad Storlie

The business and global news today is both inspiring, to discover how companies are creating vast new opportunities, and grim, when the list of re-organizations and drastic workforce changes are announced. For those of us in middle management or on the workplace floor, how do we best adapt to the changes in the business world and successfully lead those around us? The answer lies in employing military leadership skills.

Here are 5 military leadership skills you can use for work place change:

1. Leading by Example During Change. How do you represent yourself during a time of change? Do you set the example? Give 100% to solve problems? Always look for a way to find a solution? Or do you gossip? Find ways to look busy and not fully embrace the required changes? Leadership by example means setting the example in all things and doing it consistently every day even when none of your superiors are watching. Leadership by example during times of change is essential because fellow employees are inspired when they see others set the example.

2. Communicating a Common Vision and Progress Achieved. During times of change, fear can reign. Don’t let it. One of the best ways to reassure people is to communicate a common vision and then show how your team is helping the company’s progress towards its goals. This progress meeting should be a 1-2 times a month meeting that should include as many people as possible and it should be a consistent agenda. In the meeting, show how your team’s vision, mission, and activities support the company and then also show firm metrics of customer satisfaction, cost savings, or other significant measures of what your team has done in the last few weeks to support the company. Keep this meeting short, 30 minutes or less, and make sure everyone leaving the meeting knows what is important and what they need to do to keep change and progress happening.

3. Exercising Initiative to Find and Solve Problems. During times of change, people often “freeze up” and decide the best action is to take no action — the wait and see approach. By communicating a common vision and progress, you set the stage for your team and fellow employees to take more, not less, action so they find and take their own steps to solve company problems. You may be the best business leader ever, but your impact will be minimal unless you can inspire others to find problems that hurt the company's change efforts and then be the leaders in developing and implementing solutions to those problems.

4. Training and Sharing Best Practices within Your Organization. Sharing best practices is a great way to highlight your team’s actions during times of change. If your company is finding ways to reduce costs and maintain current service levels, share a method that your team discovered to reduce energy costs off hours. Have you found an old piece of technology that no one uses anymore? What are those cost savings? Sharing with the entire organization allows the entire organization to benefit. Use initiative to find, test, and implement those great ideas and then share them with others.

5. Being Able to Admit and Communicate a Mistake. Changing times and business conditions are difficult for both leaders and fellow employees. Mistakes will happen. What matters are how leaders react and show strength when they highlight and admit a mistake to the entire team. Remember, your fellow employees and team members already know if you made a mistake. What matters is when you admit that mistake and show how you are going to correct it. Additionally, showing team members what you learned from your mistakes goes to extraordinary lengths to train and develop new team members.