March 27, 2017

The Most Effective Ways To Lead Your Team Through Change


Managing change is hard. It's not always welcome and some employees may be resistant. Here are the most effective ways to lead your team through change

You’ve heard it said a billion times. Change is hard.

Whether you’re an entrepreneur who has a small team, or a seasoned business owner with a huge workforce — it’s not easy to put large changes into action. It’s one of the most difficult things that companies can do.

You have to be strategic. You have to know how to sell your staff on the changes you want to make. You have to deal with the conflict that inevitably comes from creating change.

And it can be incredibly frustrating. But it has to be done. Companies that fail to change with the times will suffer the consequences.

That may sound a little scary, but it doesn’t have to. Change is hard, but not impossible. In this post you will learn some strategies that you can apply to create the change you need in your organization.

Effective Ways of Managing Change

Make Sure You Have An Effective Strategy

Don’t even think about imposing a change if you haven’t completely planned it out yet. It’s a bad idea.

Of course, you probably already know this.

But the question is: how do you create an effective change management plan? Well, it doesn’t have to be hard. There are three factors you need to consider.

The first is situational awareness – the ability to track and comprehend the critical elements that shape the progress of your project. The next is organizational attributes; the values and beliefs that your team members believe in. Finally, it is about creating a supporting team structure.

It is important for these three factors to be present if you’re going to develop a strong change management plan.

Situational Awareness

Understanding the critical components that shape the progress of your project is important for change management. Some factors to consider here are the size of the change you plan to make, the impact this change can have on the various teams within your organization and most importantly, the objective of implementing this change in the first place.

You also need to take into account the people who will be impacted by the change. Find out how this change will make their day-to-day lives different.

Have a timeframe for deploying the change. While this can be pretty hard to predict, you do not have to worry about this being 100% accurate. It is important to have an idea of how the timeline will progress.

Organizational Attributes

Understanding the organizational attributes of your company will give you some insight into how the change should progress. These attributes are connected to the history and culture of your company. It’s what defines the “background’ that this change is being implemented against.

Simply put, it’s a current assessment of the landscape that you’re coming into while putting the change management plan into action. This will let you know if this is a good time to implement change. It’ll also give you a better idea of what you need to do to foster this change.

It is important to know what your employees and managers feel about the change. Would they concur with the management about the need for its implementation?

This is only possible if your company has a shared vision. Another thing to acknowledge here is knowing how much change your organization is going through currently and who shall be impacted by this.

Understanding the current environment that your company is in will give you a better idea of how you can create the change you need.

Create A Supporting Team Structure

You won’t be able to create change if your team isn’t on board right? If you want a smoother transition, you will need to rely on your people. They are the ones who will move the transformation forward.

You will have to figure out who will be doing the work to implement the transformation. You also have to determine which role each member of the team will play.

There are some other factors you need to take care of:

  • Resistance: Who will be against the change? Why? What will it take for them to come around?
  • Risk assessment: What risks are involved in the change you wish to make? What are the potential negative consequences? What can be done to mitigate those risks?

Having the right people on the job will make your change management plan much easier.

It’s All About The Communication

This is arguably the most important part. It can also be the hardest. Without being able to educate, inspire, and persuade, you will have an incredibly hard time getting them on board with your objective.

Your change management plan needs to include a strategy for communication. The communication needs to start even before you implement your change management plan.

When you’re communicating about the change, you need to emphasize the following:

  • What the change is going to be.
  • How it’s going to impact the team.
  • How it’s going to make the organization stronger.
  • How it’s going to benefit your team.
  • The steps to implementing the plan.

Effective communication is one of the most powerful ways to build a happy team. It shows them that you care about how they feel. It can also help you ease some of their fears. When you’re planning for your change, make sure you include a communication plan.

Listen And Understand

Communication isn’t just about talking to your team. It’s also about listening. You need to show that you’re willing to receive feedback and suggestions from your team members. You can’t lose sight of the “human” aspect of the change.

Understand that some members of your team will feel certain emotions through the process. Some of them will never buy in. As the leader, you need to know that most people fear change. Fear will be the reason for much of the resistance that you will experience.

Transitions are hard. People want to cling to what they have always known. Your team needs to know that you are there to hear their concerns. Invite their feedback. They may even have helpful suggestions that can help with the transition. Having a collaborative attitude is the key to earning their trust.

Arrows Photo via Shutterstock

6 Comments ▼
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Jeff Charles


Jeff Charles Jeff Charles is the founder of Artisan Owl Media, an Austin-based content marketing agency that specializes in helping professional service firms increase their influence and earn more clients.

6 Reactions

  1. Great post!

    I like how it’s organized and formatted in easy steps to follow.
    The most important piece of this puzzle is making sure your team is on board with the change.
    Otherwise, your business and brand are both negatively affected.
    This article is great for small business especially, as it serves as a small blueprint.

    • Jeff Charles

      Christian,

      You’re absolutely right. If you don’t get your team on board, you’re in for a serious challenge. That’s why it’s best to sell them on the idea before you get started, that way, you won’t have to worry about the process being held up by disgruntled employees.

      I’m glad you liked the post. Thanks for your comment!

  2. Martin Lindeskog

    Jeff,

    I recently listen to Thomas Reibke’s talk (Shut Up and Listen) at CreativeMornings in Gothenburg, Sweden. He talked about how to listen and have a dialogue, throughout the organization.

    • Jeff Charles

      Martin,

      I haven’t heard that before. I’ll have to check it out. Listening and having dialogue is important for business of all sizes. I think listening is the most important part, but unfortunately, it’s also one of the most neglected skills. Thanks for your comment!

  3. I like the last part the most – listen and understand your employees. It is true that paying attention to your employe’s needs and concerns and supporting them through the entire project will definitely lead to change. Employees will feel appreciated and will respond accordingly.

    • Jeff Charles

      Hello Marc,

      I think one of the biggest mistakes that leadership makes is just assuming that their employees will just go along with whatever they say. There might be some truth to this, after all, employees don’t want to risk losing their jobs!

      But, this isn’t the way to lead. Sure, this approach may get your employees to comply with your “commands.” But they will only do the bare minimum. They won’t bother to share their ideas. They will stop trusting you. That’s why it’s important to engage them in the process as much as possible. Ask for their feedback. Show them that their concerns are important to you. That’s how you lead a team through change!

      Thanks for your comment!

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