Leading people through change
Whilst most of us recognise that change is a constant factor in our society today, our response to change can still put us on ‘high alert’ through worry and stress or anticipation and excitement.
Having been through so much change in the early stages of my career within the hospitality industry, I have become accustomed to it, especially at an organisational level.
We all react differently to change and different forms of change. Our natural personality traits, previous experiences of change and our current capability will all play a part. Personal ambitions and motivations will determine how far out of our ‘comfort zone’ we will stretch ourselves.
With this in mind, here are some useful tips aimed at leading people through change at work:
- Clearly explain the rationale for change
If this is part of wider change, ensure you understand the clear rationale and critical timescales before communicating with the team in a way they relate to. As people take in information and make decisions in different ways, communicating change in the workplace requires time and adaption to different team members.
- Consider the potential impact of the organisational change
Anticipating the potential impact on the people around you including your customers and suppliers will help you support them. If you are mentally prepared for this change, regardless of the personal impact, you are likely to provide more effective support.
- Review initial response to the change
Check how the communication has been received by talking to each person or representative group (if managing large scale change) so that you can constructively respond with follow up communication and support.
- Get people involved
People particularly need a role during change that constructively plays to their strengths. This helps them to channel their energy and time on something useful and relevant, rather than dwelling on the negatives or unknown possibilities. Find your key influencers to ensure they are sharing the right messages with their colleagues and delegate relevant tasks to give them recognition.
- Keep listening and acknowledge people’s feeling and emotions to the change
Some people may stay in the denial and resistance stage of change for much longer than others. They need to be listened to, acknowledged and supported. During this time, the team dynamics may change, so explaining the stages of team development will help the team to recognise and adapt to this disruption.
- Align your values to the change:
To help maintain trust during a period of change, identify how your personal and organisational values can be applied to your communication with people and the change processes you are managing. Acknowledge that you don’t have all the answers as the change is evolving but keep people informed when you do.
- Allow people to experience the future before hand
Where possible, arrange for your team or a key influencing team member to visit somewhere that is operating the way you envisage after successful implementation of the change. Allow them to experience this change and report back to you and the team.
- Build and keep the momentum of the change going
Publish action plans and regular updates about progress being made. Look to implement ‘quick wins’ as soon as you can with major changes. Involve people with the implementation activity and widely communicate and celebrate success stories.
- Assign work with creative or future orientated team members
For team members who continue to resist the change, develop their creativity to help them look at situations differently. Get them to work with peers who are closer to accepting the change and enable them to experience the successful working practice. Identify a peer to support an individual that needs additional day-to-day help for a period of time.
- Evaluate the results and ways to enhance your approach to change
Review the implementation of the change with all of your key stakeholders by reflecting on what worked well and what could have been done differently. Make notes that you can refer back to prior to the next change.
Through any organisational change, there is usually something that we can all take away from the experience and learn from. It’s likely there will be an unexpected challenge along the way, but I hope some of these tips for coping with change at work make the transition easier for you and your people.
I’d love to find out the things that you have found particularly helpful through a period of change. What worked well for you?
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