How to Effectively Manage Change in the Workplace

Most business leaders know that change is inevitable. It is the only constant in today’s fast-paced, global business environment—but knowing that change is coming isn’t enough. Many people respond negatively to change and are afraid of the risks associated with embracing it, and this can be challenging for leaders charged with leading the way.

Viewing change from a “doom and gloom” perspective is a pretty common reaction. This is often because people have had negative experiences with organizational change in the past. Instead of seeing the change as an opportunity, they focus on the danger and pain associated with the new way of doing business. However, what’s important to remember is that in the long run, the cost of avoiding change and remaining stagnant is much greater than the risk of trying a new approach to the business.

Successful Change Management

Leaders who successfully manage change recognize that they will encounter some resistance as the change is introduced. They know that people move through stages of transition before they can fully accept a new way of operating. When a change is announced, people may initially react with complete shock or denial that it will actually happen.

Sometimes team members become angry, defiant, and resistant. They may argue that the current way of operating is better. New ways of approaching work require people to let go of comfortable habits and learn new skills. The best change leaders understand that this process can be very uncomfortable for a team, especially one that has performed well under the old system.

Leaders may also have strong emotions associated with the new way of operating. In large organizations, middle managers must often announce changes decided upon by the executive team—and they may not always agree with the changes being made. Delivering this type of message in a positive way requires leaders to keep their personal feelings and emotions in check and reframe the situation.

When leaders can see the big picture and take ownership of the change, they can influence others to accept it more readily. Reflecting on your own emotions and thinking through the benefits of the change for the organization takes some time. It helps to visualize success and develop a personal vision for your role in leading the change. Managing your own emotions and demonstrating resilience helps you to move forward as a positive role model. It’s only then that you can influence others and help them move towards acceptance of the change.

When people become more accepting of the new way of doing business, they are also more willing to explore the options they have in front of them. They will begin to show some curiosity and ask questions. They exhibit a willingness to adapt and begin to talk about the benefits and possibilities associated with the change.

Finally, negative emotions are dispelled, and people become comfortable with the new routine. At this point, the entire team will begin to advocate for the new way of doing business and adopt it as the accepted standard.

Leading others through significant change requires a leader to build personal resilience, manage complex emotions, communicate effectively, and develop plans for moving forward. CMOE has years of experience helping leaders successfully manage change and lead others through the change process. Contact us today to learn how CMOE can help you become a more effective change leader.

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About the Author


CMOE’s Design Team is comprised of individuals with diverse and complementary strengths, talents, education, and experience who have come together to bring a unique service to CMOE’s clients. Our team has a rich depth of knowledge, holding advanced degrees in areas such as business management, psychology, communication, human resource management, organizational development, and sociology.