Soft Skills for Handling Change and Uncertainty Effectively

StrategyDriven Change Management Article |Handling Change|Soft Skills for Handling Change and Uncertainty EffectivelyTackling Change Amidst Uncertain Circumstances

Handling change is always difficult. It can be tough to adjust to starting a brand new and complex job or needing to shift your business. COVID-19 has resulted in significant changes in all aspects of life. If you want to be able to get through major changes well, then there are various soft skills that can help though.

1. Flexibility

You should never be the kind of person who is “rigid.” You should strive to be as open as possible to things that seem foreign to you. Remember that familiarity isn’t always optimal especially when trying to learn and change.

2. Communication

The people who deal well with change tend to be the ones who have great communication skills. Succinct communication can go a long way, it’s productive and will help you in a time poor business environment where things need to get done quick! People gravitate to others who make things as transparent and hassle-free as possible.

3. Teamwork

Teamwork and solid communication skills basically go hand in hand. It’s in your best interests to team up with others who are around you well. Don’t ever forget that power exists in numbers. If you’re able to work well with others, you may be able to get through trying situations with ease, confidence and ample support.

4. An Upbeat Personality

It’s essential to have an upbeat attitude. It’s essential to be able to look at the bright side of life. It’s only natural that human beings are drawn to people who know how to keep things cheerful. A cheerful attitude is conducive to productivity that can pave the way for substantial and meaningful upgrades.

5. Being Able to Take on Problems Well

There’s no avoiding occasional problems. Occasional problems are natural. Your aim should actually be to figure out how to get through them like a bona fide champion. Learning how to think analytically and logically can take you far. If you’re able to remain composed, then you should be able to come up with solutions that can help all of your most pressing dilemmas become distant and irrelevant.

6. Leadership

The world could benefit from having leaders who are capable and confident. If you’re serious about the concept of being able to get through change in a healthy and productive way, then you should strive to hone your leadership abilities. It can be beneficial to know how to guide others.

7. Accountability

People who have the ability to get through change well are the ones who steer clear of being in denial. They are accountable. That’s because it can foster growth and personal enrichment. If you’re interested in being able to handle change in a healthy and beneficial manner, then you must admit when change needs to occur and there are issues. If you’re okay with change and all of the things that it may entail, then it can help you figure out how to take charge of it fully. Taking charge of change and all of its possibilities can give you a feeling of liberation and self-esteem.

Although there is a great deal of uncertainty especially in the current environment there are a range of soft skills we can improve and utilize. Be aware of the above soft skills in your workplace or personal life and try implementing the above advice.


StrategyDriven Expert Contributor |Simon ChoiAbout the Author

Simon Choi has a background in change management in consulting (including EY and KPMG) and financial services from Australia. In 2017, he started his own small business distributing lensball photography accessories.

To Drive Digital Transformation, Focus on People

StrategyDriven Change Management Article | To Drive Digital Transformation, Focus on PeopleBusinesses from top global firms to main street staples are looking into a future driven by new technology capabilities. Since this transformation is different from any of the dramatic changes leaders have faced over the past century, it requires a different response.

Today’s changes are not unusual in scope or pace. Consider, for instance, the changes in the last several decades: the invention and rapid propagation routine affordable air flight, the explosion of trade and globalization, and the invention of computing, networks and the Internet. New financial innovations enabled both historic global economic growth and cascading global financial failures. These revolutionary developments required equally revolutionary changes, including more truly global firms, whole new industries, new ways of organizing enterprises (think first GM and then GE), new ways of working (email, virtual global teams), and more.

Today’s digital revolution brings three new components: ubiquitous networks that connect people, devices, and systems instantly and globally; the data that these networks collect and the ability to store that data cost-effectively; and processing power and techniques that enable us to analyze and act on the available data. These new capabilities connect to the work we’ve done over the past several decades inside our enterprises to automate processes with tools — such as accounting systems, supply chain, call center, and such. We need to understand the possibilities and threats posed and act on the new potentials to deliver value to customers in a profitable way. That requires a new way of thinking about people and leadership.

The nature of large-scale digital is, I believe, something new in human endeavor. Humans have been able to organize large numbers of people into a common mission and execute amazing things, from conquering armies to astonishing constructions project like the pyramids. Digital is something quite different: it How do we get hundreds or thousands of people to come up with thousands of ideas and decisions with little physical manifestation (software), and align all into a single solution that runs and meets valuable needs? The hierarchical and process-driven methods of the past won’t work well.

But there’s a model of leadership that will. To build great invisible structures out of thousands of ideas that work together and deliver value in the real world, in a fast-paced, highly competitive environment where the tools, people, and problems are all new and at enormous scale, we need leadership that delivers three imperatives:

  • Rigor In dealing with the uncertainties driving agile adaptive process control, there are many crucial decisions to be made. Rigor means clearly defining each decision, gathering and considering facts, thoroughly considering options, and making clear decisions. Without rigor, alignment has to be command-driven. And efficiency in pursuit of decision reached without rigor is just doing the wrong things more quickly.
  • Alignment Teams must work in a way that gets the best input from all members, and gains understanding and commitment around common goals, schedules, methods, and decisions/directions of all kinds. In this new process of invisibly codifying ideas, perhaps dozens or more team members make many decisions every day that are difficult, if not impossible to control. How do we get everyone’s head in the game, draw out the best in each team member, and gain strong alignment on the way ahead?
  • Efficiency People’s time is a valuable commodity not to be wasted. From creating a meeting agenda to establishing a standard format for decision documents to holding in-person meetings instead of meetings by phone, there are proven techniques to drive efficiency that can be learned and adopted. Above all, driving the use of these techniques depends on the stance of leadership. Leadership should make it clear that they are offended by wasting time, as it’s also wasting energy, resources and brain space.

We need this kind of leadership from top to bottom on in our enterprises: on each team, in each role, at every level; whether organized around project or products, agile scrum or lean start-up; whether teams are fully co-located or spread out globally; whether focused on apps, apis, or IoT.  We need it whether we are transforming, adding to, or combining a digitized environment. Improving our leadership may require a long haul for your organization, or it may just mean a continuation and intensification of current practices. In either case, consider these three focus areas:

  • Frameworks Frameworks are the mechanisms through which a leader facilitates a team to accomplish rigor, alignment, and efficiency. In this context frameworks include physical space (e.g., agile studios), tools (communication such as Slack or Jira, etc.), organizational structure (such decentralizing and aligning technology to business areas more effectively), and governance. Frameworks also include cultural practices such as Toyota’s A3 problem-solving approach and Amazon’s six-page memos. Cultural insistence on extraordinarily well-prepared and conducted meetings is another valuable framework.
  • Leader Behavior Leaders must reinforce the focus on rigor, alignment, and efficiency. Don’t accept poorly planned and conducted meetings. Reject proposals that do not include options and supporting facts. Help teams form, adjust, and get and share needed information. Clear paths by establishing relationships with leaders of business areas or partners on which your teams depend. Fight waste and inefficiency in all incarnations. Don’t cripple your teams by over-standardizing! And be involved with your teams, available to make decisions when they need your help.
  • Training Leadership can be taught, though it’s not easy or cheap. Many leadership skills required for digital success are similar to those taught to meeting facilitators. Our leaders need to be able to solicit ideas effectively, examine them in team context, and gain agreement on next steps in a way that persists when the meeting ends. Beyond these “soft” skills, we need to encourage what Toyota calls “Towering Technical Competence”: certainly in the technical areas of data, networks, development processes and such, but also in customer understanding, testing, process engineering, and partner negotiations.  Don’t rely on just centralized training — managers must be deeply involved in the development of their team members and hold them accountable to demonstrate ongoing mastery.

I recently heard a senior leader ask when the digital transformation they were undertaking would be done — as if there’s a finite point of completion. But this isn’t a rigid set of specific transformational steps. It’s an unrelenting focus on developing the best leaders at every level of your enterprise. The results will be amazing, rewarding, and fun.


About the Author

StrategyDriven Expert Contributor | Michael K. LevineMichael K. Levine is an expert on lean and agile software development and information technology. He’s worked at the US Commerce Department, First Bank System, and Norwest Banks; was CTO of a real estate software firm; and led Wells Fargo servicing technology through the default crisis. In 2011 he joined US Bank to deploy a new branch banking system; then was technology lead at US Bank Home Mortgage, where he now leads all consumer lending and business banking technology. His latest book is People Over Process: Leadership for Agility (Productivity Press, September 30, 2019). He lives in St. Paul, Minnesota. Learn more at TheTalesofAgility.com

StrategyDriven Podcast Episode 37 – Making Change Work: Why is Buy-in Necessary and How to Achieve It

StrategyDriven PodcastStrategyDriven Podcasts focus on the tools and techniques executives and managers can use to improve their organization’s alignment and accountability to ultimately achieve superior results. These podcasts elaborate on the best practice and warning flag articles on the StrategyDriven website.

Episode 37 – Making Change Work: Why is Buy-in Necessary and How to Achieve It explores the role of buy-in to the change management processes, its importance, and how to get it. During our discussion, Sharon Drew Morgen, the New York Times bestselling author of Dirty Little Secrets, shares with us her insights and illustrative examples regarding:

  • what buy-in means in terms of the change management process
  • how and when buy-in occurs
  • why people do not buy-in
  • how a leader can get someone who is resisting to not only buy-in but to do so happily
  • when the change agent should begin to seek buy-in from the various stakeholder groups
  • what skills change agents need to gain employee buy-in and how can they acquire these skills
  • what leaders can do to programmatically embed the buy-in approach to their change management policies

Additional Information

In addition to the outstanding insights Sharon Drew shares in Dirty Little Secrets and this edition of the StrategyDriven Podcast are the resources accessible from her websites, www.NewSalesParadigm.com and www.BuyingFacilitation.com.   Sharon Drew’s book, Dirty Little Secrets, can be purchased by clicking here.

Making Change Work!
This podcast is the fifth in a series that teaches leaders how to make change work. The finale of the Making Change Work series will pull it all together; introducing a radical approach to change management – real leadership!


About the Author

Sharon Drew Morgen is a New York Times bestselling author and developer of a change management model based on buy-in that she’s written about in her latest book Dirty Little Secrets. She is the visionary thought leader behind Buying Facilitation®, a decision facilitation model that focuses on helping buyers and those who would be impacted by the accompanying change manage their internal, unconscious, and behind-the-scenes issues that must be addressed before they purchase anything or buy-in to the requested change. She has served many well known companies including: KPMG, Unisys, IBM, Wachovia, and Bose. To read Sharon Drew’s complete biography, click here.

StrategyDriven Podcast Episode 35 – Making Change Work: If Decisions Are Always Rational, Why Are Changees Resisting?

StrategyDriven PodcastStrategyDriven Podcasts focus on the tools and techniques executives and managers can use to improve their organization’s alignment and accountability to ultimately achieve superior results. These podcasts elaborate on the best practice and warning flag articles on the StrategyDriven website.

Episode 35 – Making Change Work: If Decisions Are Always Rational, Why Are Changees Resisting? explores the rationality of decisions and their impact on change management. During our discussion, Sharon Drew Morgen, the New York Times bestselling author of Dirty Little Secrets, shares with us her insights and illustrative examples regarding:

  • why decisions are always rational
  • what causes resistance to logical change
  • what benefits can be gained from resistance
  • how resistance can be avoided when making a change

Additional Information

In addition to the outstanding insights Sharon Drew shares in Dirty Little Secrets and this edition of the StrategyDriven Podcast are the resources accessible from her websites, www.NewSalesParadigm.com and www.BuyingFacilitation.com.   Sharon Drew’s book, Dirty Little Secrets, can be purchased by clicking here.

Making Change Work!
This podcast is the fourth in a series that teaches leaders how to make change work. Coming editions of the Making Change Work series will explore the steps to gaining the buy-in and committed effort needed to implement change successfully. We’ll cover topics including:

  • Why is buy-in necessary and how to achieve it?
  • Putting it all together, a radical approach to change management: real leadership

About the Author

Sharon Drew Morgen is a New York Times bestselling author and developer of a change management model based on buy-in that she’s written about in her latest book Dirty Little Secrets. She is the visionary thought leader behind Buying Facilitation®, a decision facilitation model that focuses on helping buyers and those who would be impacted by the accompanying change manage their internal, unconscious, and behind-the-scenes issues that must be addressed before they purchase anything or buy-in to the requested change. She has served many well known companies including: KPMG, Unisys, IBM, Wachovia, and Bose. To read Sharon Drew’s complete biography, click here.

StrategyDriven Podcast Episode 34 – Making Change Work: The Problems of Change Management: Bias, Resistance, and Push

StrategyDriven PodcastStrategyDriven Podcasts focus on the tools and techniques executives and managers can use to improve their organization’s alignment and accountability to ultimately achieve superior results. These podcasts elaborate on the best practice and warning flag articles on the StrategyDriven website.

Episode 34 – Making Change Work: The Problems of Change Management: Bias, Resistance, and Push explores the problems associated with change management, namely, that of bias, resistance, and push. During our discussion, Sharon Drew Morgen, the New York Times bestselling author of Dirty Little Secrets, shares with us her insights and illustrative examples regarding:

  • how contemporary change management models handle resistance
  • why with thousands of years of amassed leadership experience change management isn’t easier
  • what leaders should be doing differently to avoid resistance to change
  • what part personal bias plays in change management and how to overcome these biases

Additional Information

In addition to the outstanding insights Sharon Drew shares in Dirty Little Secrets and this edition of the StrategyDriven Podcast are the resources accessible from her websites, www.NewSalesParadigm.com and www.BuyingFacilitation.com.   Sharon Drew’s book, Dirty Little Secrets, can be purchased by clicking here.

Making Change Work!
This podcast is the third in a series that teaches leaders how to make change work. Coming editions of the Making Change Work series will explore the steps to gaining the buy-in and committed effort needed to implement change successfully. We’ll cover topics including:

  • If decisions are always rational, why are changees resisting?
  • Why is buy-in necessary and how to achieve it?
  • Putting it all together, a radical approach to change management: real leadership

About the Author

Sharon Drew Morgen is a New York Times bestselling author and developer of a change management model based on buy-in that she’s written about in her latest book Dirty Little Secrets. She is the visionary thought leader behind Buying Facilitation®, a decision facilitation model that focuses on helping buyers and those who would be impacted by the accompanying change manage their internal, unconscious, and behind-the-scenes issues that must be addressed before they purchase anything or buy-in to the requested change. She has served many well known companies including: KPMG, Unisys, IBM, Wachovia, and Bose. To read Sharon Drew’s complete biography, click here.