Leading through change

The only constant in life is change itself. If you are in a leadership role, there is one thing we know for sure, that you will have to manage your way through changing environments and challenges in the year ahead and will be thrown all sorts of curveballs. It’s not a warming thought, we all know it’s true, yet instinctively we still resist change and find it threatening. We are creatures of habit and hen it comes to work, most of us feel like the rug is being pulled from under us when change is imminent. Yet in this changing world, our companies would wither and die without embracing change. 

Despite the inevitability of it, it can be the most difficult thing for leaders to do well. It is a challenge to lead through change gracefully, especially when we can’t foresee the outcome of our decisions, so here are a things to keep in mind when you have to manage your team through change.

  1. Communicate often and well with your team
    Change can be daunting to everyone, we all naturally want to resist it. Yet the more informed we are, the more the unknown becomes the know, the less overwhelmed we become and the better we feel about it. The more you keep your team informed and keep the lines of communication open, the more they will accept the change that lies ahead and encourage their cooperation throughout the process. As soon as your team gets wind of changes, gather them together, or send them an email to confirm the changes. Even if you don’t know details yourself, just by letting them know what you know will help avoid speculation and a culture of fear and uncertainty from taking shape. Hewn communicating the details of the change, bear in mind that unsuccessful leaders tend to focus on the “what” behind the change whereas successful leaders communicate the “what” and the “why.” Try to effectively explain the purpose of the change and outline how it resonates with your company’s higher purpose and core values. This will result in your team embracing the change more, rather than resisting it and will encourage greater commitment and collaboration in the days to come. 
  2. Encourage collaboration through change
    Organising the effective collaboration of key stakeholders and decision makers is vital. By involving your team in decision making early on in the process, rather than just looping them in much further down the track, you will have more committed and invested employees who have embraced the change. Asking individuals to provide feedback on the change plan and contribute their thoughts and ideas will help them feel involved and more confident about the changes that lay ahead. Of course, changing roles and processes can result in conflicts and miscommunications amongst your team. As a leader it’s crucial you try to maintain a positive and collaborative culture and quickly eliminate conflicts as they arise to keep your team focussed, motivated and positive. 
  3. Be aware of timing and roll it out gradually
    When you’re navigating through change, implementing new processes straight away is not a great idea. Give people a chance to be involved in the planning process and digest and plan for the changes that are coming. Allow time to meet with your team to discuss any concerns they have before the changes take place and allow them some time to come to terms with changes before they are implemented. Set aside a time for questions and one on one catch ups and demonstrate your commitment to helping the transition go as smoothly as possible. Change that is rolled out gradually ensures no one is caught off guard. 
  4. Keep up the praise for the work at hand
    Don’t get so bogged down in managing the change that you neglect to thank and applaud your team for the great work they are doing. Praising your team for the work they are completing is a great way of validating them and keeping them feeling valued and secure in a changing environment. Schedule a weekly meeting with your team to do just this. It can be a great time to build confidence in the team structure and ensure a positive and motivated culture during transition.

During times of change, your leadership capabilities are really put under the spotlight. Kick off the new year with one of my tailored leadership workshops for the leaders in your company. You’ll feel better prepared and confident that you can handle anything thrown your way in the year ahead. Please get in touch today. I’d love to help!

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