Change management has gotten a lot of attention in the past year. March 2020 hit, every organization was thrown into needing to make immediate changes whether they liked it or not. Most organizations didn’t have a “What to do if a pandemic hits” section in their emergency plans. Everyone was left to make quick adjustments on the fly. And now a year later, things might not feel as “back to normal” as we want them to.
On top of that, many organizations are in the place of needing to make additional changes. Some of these are still due to the pandemic and some are needed just because change is a normal part of doing business. But just because it’s normal or necessary, doesn’t mean it’s always easy.
But most people don’t like change. So how are you supposed to navigate making change effectively?
Tips for change management
1. Explain why it’s time to make changes
No one likes for change to happen just for the sake of change. If it’s time to make some organizational changes, it’s helpful to make sure everyone knows why the changes are happening.
The workforce has changed. While older generations were content to show up and accept what they were told without asking too many questions, the world isn’t like that anymore, nor should it be. It helps people to invest in their jobs more when they have an understanding of why they have to do the things that they do instead of just being expected to do them because they were told.
It used to be more widely accepted to withhold information from employees that weren’t upper management. Things were on more of a “need to know” basis. But here’s the thing – if you want the best work from your team, they “need to know” more of the reasons behind why things are the way they are. When you can help them connect their purpose and goals with those of the organization, things start to fall in place for everyone.
Some of the common situations that lead to change include:
- Failing to meet goals
- Losing clients
- Necessary layoffs
- Explosive growth
- Changes to regulations and rules
- Global pandemic
It’s also important to remember that communication isn’t a one-and-done type of thing when it comes to change. You should be communicating on a regular basis.
2. Listen to your employees
Remember that communication goes two ways. Even when you explain why change is necessary, it doesn’t mean that everyone is just going to jump on board. Change is uncomfortable and it’s normal for employees to resist it. Even if they understand why change is necessary, it doesn’t mean that they are going to agree with the way the changes are being made.
Make sure you listen to your employees to hear their concerns. Not only will feeling like they’re being heard help them to buy into the process, but you may learn something valuable. The people that are in the roles doing the work day-in and day-out will have insight that upper management might not have. If you make them feel comfortable sharing, you never know what valuable information you will learn that can lead to meaningful change.
3. Invest in your leaders
Confident leaders can make a big difference when your organization is making changes. If your leaders aren’t confident, it will impact the way that they interact and communicate with their direct reports. A great way to help them build confidence is to provide them with leadership development training. When investing in leaders, keep in mind that leaders need to be developed at all levels, not just within upper-level management.
Along with investing in your leaders, it’s also helpful to bring in additional resources to invest in your entire team before, during, and after change. This can help keep your entire team on the same page while creating a strong company culture as you navigate what could have been a difficult process.
4. Celebrate success
It’s crucial to celebrate wins together as a team—big and small. This helps unite a team together and builds confidence. It’s easy to get caught up in focusing on what’s not going right as you look to make corrections and adaptions as needed, however, you can’t stay stuck in that. As a leader, if you’re only communicating with your team when they’ve failed or something needs to be corrected, it will cause challenges within your team.
Look for the positives. At SPEARity, we teach to record at least three successes on a daily basis. Encourage your team to do the same. And as a leader, make sure you’re pointing out these successes privately and publicly. Send one-one-one emails to let an employee know that you noticed something they did well. Celebrate team wins together. And mention the success of specific team members in front of others as well.
If you want to be a leader that helps your team manage change, you need to be a leader that recognizes and celebrates the successes of your team members.
5. Create a culture that supports change
The best way to make times of change easier in your organization is to work on creating a company that has an adaptable culture. When employees know and understand that change may be constant, as the company works on continually improving, it makes dealing with change easier.
This helps employees develop a mindset that embraces change instead of fighting against it. A great book to encourage your team to read on this subject is Who Moved My Cheese by Spencer Johnson M.D.
Change should be something that only happens once in a great while. Growth requires change. As your company grows, team grows, and individual employees grow, change should be constantly happening. You want a culture that understands and celebrates that instead of resenting it.
Your next steps
As a leader, you’re either getting ready for change, in the midst of it, or just coming out of it. That means it’s always a good time to invest in leadership development skills and training for yourself and other members of your team. Our SPEARity coaches would be happy to work with you and your organization to help you overcome your change management obstacles so you can achieve greater success! Contact us today to learn more.