If there is one thing that we can count on, it is that things will change. Especially in the last two years, how and where we work has changed, and the workforce itself is decidedly different. Organizations are facing new changes every day, and it is essential for leaders to exploit the advantages that these changes can give. But how can leaders make change appealing to their team members, especially after constant change has been thrust upon us over the past two years?
Here are four actions to lead team members through the stages of change and ensure that the change is fully accepted, whatever that change may be. Whether it be transitioning the team back into the office or implementing a new production process, taking these steps will help ensure the change will not only be accepted but fully integrated into your team and its processes.
When team members are first introduced to the change, they may feel shock as they face uncertainty and a loss of control. The leader must advocate for the change’s importance and communicate its necessity. Offer specific details about what is likely to happen while recognizing and respecting the unsettled feelings that your team members are likely experiencing.
As the change continues, team members may resist as they desire to continue doing things the “old way” instead of the “new way.” When met with resistance, leaders should educate and help team members learn how to cope with this change. Provide opportunities for learning and resources to deal with these new challenges.
Eventually, team members will start to accept the change and no longer oppose it. At this point, the leader must coach their team members on desired new practices and maintaining their willingness to move forward in order to help them grow and develop from this change event. Establish expectations for both your team members and yourself so the team can continue to grow.
Team members will ultimately fully accept and assimilate the change as they gain confidence in their performance. The leader should provide support and reinforcement for their team members as they solidify the new practices or processes. Continue to optimize and refine these new activities but let others take ownership and receive credit. You are going through this change as a team, so you should include your team members as much as possible.
While resistance to change is inevitable, by taking these steps, leaders can address team members’ anxieties and uncertainties. As you help your team members navigate and assimilate change, you will also show your abilities as a coach and leader. Caring about your team members’ reaction to and acceptance of change directly leads to both increased performance as they execute the changes and increased trust in you as their leader.
For more information on how to lead change within your organization, check out CMOE’s Leading Change workshop.