What Do You Do When You Get Stuck?

Leading change is hard. Encountering roadblocks is inevitable. So what do you do when you reach a point where you feel like you are encountering resistance at every turn? How do you continue to move forward and not allow yourself to get stuck?

[lonely blue boat, stuck in the mud]

Image courtesy kyle post on flickr

1. Take the long-term view

The best boss I ever had was never rattled by naysayers nor people who went behind her back and tried to undermine what she was trying to achieve. She focussed on how much better her company would be in 5 or 10 years when the change had taken hold. She followed her internal compass that told her that change was the right thing to do for her customers–internal and external. She believed that people’s immediate reactions were fleeting. In the end, the vision’s benefits would far exceed the annoyance of temporary noise.

2. Find and nurture your relationships with people who can see the possibility

As a change leader you will be expected to repeatedly and consistently act as a cheerleader for why the change is needed, and why now. Yet as human beings, we all have times when we need someone to act as a sounding board–whether we seek advice or just need to vent. While your sponsor will primarily articulate the case for change and persuade others to get on board, leverage her positivity and belief in the project when you have moments of doubt. She may have creative ideas to help you through the current challenges and/or find a way to give you a break–coffee, a walk, an afternoon off–to mentally regroup so you can come back with renewed energy.

3. Review the successes you have achieved to-date

At the beginning of your change effort you defined what success will look like and how you will objectively know that change has happened. Though the change is not fully implemented, take a moment to reflect on what you have accomplished:

  • What positive voice-of-the-customer feedback have you received from people who have already adopted the change?
  • Are there interim business benefits that have already been realized?
  • Have you heard stories of any unexpected positive business impacts that you did not originally intend?
  • Has your personal network and/or knowledge of the inner workings of your company expanded?
  • Have you gained any new skills as a result of your work on this project–influencing without authority, active listening, industry certifications?

4. Keep going

In the end, great change only comes about because leaders are willing to persevere through seemingly insurmountable odds.

“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.”
― Thomas Edison

About Michelle Smeby

Michelle Smeby is CEO of wHolistic Change, Inc. with more than 10 years of experience implementing enterprise solutions at Fortune 100 companies. Michelle specializes in helping corporations deliver transformational change.
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