Some people find change a thrilling prospect, but for most, the thoughts of change unbalances them. It’s natural that people have set routines, boundaries and certain expectations associated with their working days, and therefore, it can be quite unnerving when these are set to alter.
Though it’s hard on the team or department who may not have asked for the change, spare a thought for their leader or manager who has to steer the whole unit through the uncertainty….
How to lay the right foundations within your team before change takes place
A common reaction, when teams/employees hear that changes may be afoot, is to oppose. Most won’t even know why they’re resisting the changes nor what the new process or plan will actually mean to them; their knee-jerk reaction has more to do with the fear of the unknown than the specifics of the new measures.
It may be tempting for leaders to rush new plans through, in the hope others will just get used to new practices once they’re in place, but denying resistance, or not acknowledging people’s feelings/opinions means change is unlikely to ever be accepted, as bad feeling will not have been dealt with.
Don’t underestimate or ignore the depth of people’s concerns; encourage communication and talk through possible outcomes resulting from the proposed changes, and the benefits to all once they’re adapted. Also discuss the implications if no change takes place at all, so that staff can see why it’s necessary.
Wherever team members can be involved in the planning of the changes, encourage their participation. This will help them feel more invested and positive about the new process, once it’s underway.
Keeping your team on side as things begin to change
Discussion is one thing, but once people are affected by change and the associated upheaval during the transitional stages, they may waver in their support. As leader, instil the importance of feeding back any gripes and teething troubles, so that you’re not only seen to be listening, but so you can help solve problems as they occur.
Be honest with your team; don’t gloss over any issues if they arise. Ensure there’s a framework in place for regular briefings and time where you’re accessible for one-to-one discussion. When things appear unsettling, consistency is what your team will expect from you; they need an unflappable sounding board to steer them through the stormy, choppy sea, towards a tighter-run, more efficient ship.
Recognise staff’s resilience through the changes and reward milestones as they’re reached. Though there may still be the odd hiccup, praising your team’s patience if issues arise will stop people from returning to old processes or longing for the ‘good old days’, which may threaten months of good work implementing change.
The old adage: ‘keep your head, when all around you, people are losing theirs’ is appropriate for a leader charged with enforcing change. The first thought your staff will have is ‘how will this affect me?’; if they see that you’re confident about the goal you’ll all be working towards, they’ll be more likely to get on board with the changes.
Keep momentum, and don’t let procrastination or doubt set in once change has been accepted and has started to take place. Stay strong and positive, even if people still seek confirmation that they’re doing the right thing.
Lead from the front.
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