Helping your team cope with change

Helping your team cope with change
August 14, 2018 Linda Murray

Changes in the workplace fail because leaders don’t adequately anticipate and minimise their team’s resistance to any disruption in the status quo.

The following strategies will help you to better understand your team’s perspective. This will give you the insight you need to help your team deal with change.

Plan for resistance

Since we so easily fall into habits and our brains see repetition and routines as “safe”. It’s only natural that your team will be reluctant to embrace change, even if it is something that will benefit them.

Great leaders anticipate and plan for push back against their ideas, innovations and upgrades.

Long before you introduce changes to your team, sit down and think of the reasons why your team may oppose the plan, at least initially.

Think about why they might fear the planned changes. How might you reduce or counter their fears? Are all their concerns grounded, or are there some misconceptions to be cleared up so they can see the benefits of making a change?

Creating a plan to address your team’s concerns will reduce their fear and anxiety. It will also make it easier for them to “pitch in” and do their part in implementing the change.

Build trust with open communication

Effective communication is key to introducing any sort of workplace change.

When implementing changes, be upfront with your people and be honest. Let them know what you know about the upcoming disruption. Be open about what you don’t know.

Make yourself available to talk with your people both as a group, and one on one, and continue to give regular updates as you gain new information and as the initiative moves forward. As your team learns that they can trust you to look out for their interests, their resistance to the change will decrease.

Be specific with goals and expectations

One of the biggest mistakes leaders make is not communicating exactly what new behaviour is expected from their teams. They fail to tell them what specific actions they expect in the new way of working and how it will benefit them and the company.

Be very clear about what you expect from your team. Set goals where progress can be measured, and which are time-sensitive. Set benchmarks to let your people know the target that they are trying to reach. Give specific examples of what you want from your team moving forward so they know exactly what behaviours and actions are now expected of them and others in your organisation.

Now, this part is important.

Don’t just tell them what you want but tie the change to your organisation’s values and vision. Even better how it will tie in with their goals. This way, they can see how the change helps the organisation achieve its mission. They need to see and understand the reason for the change, which helps build their commitment to it.

Use the power of the herd to your advantage

In every group, there are “early adopters,” quick to adopt new ideas and products.

Next is the main body of the group, who will resist innovation in the beginning, until they can see the benefits of changing. Finally, there are the “stragglers,” who will hold out against change as long as possible.

One way to get more of your people to join in and support the changes is to use the power of “group think.”

Openly praise, recognise and reward those members of your team who first embrace the change initiative. As the number of supporters of the change grows, be certain to update your people on the progress of implementing the change. Peer pressure will encourage others to join in and support the change.

Involve your people in the process

If you want your people to support change in your organisation, make it easy for them to be a part of the process. When change is necessary, involve your people in the process of deciding what needs to be changed, and how it will be changed.

Allow them to brainstorm and come up with options of what processes, policies or procedures will be changed and specifically how they are to be changed and improved.

Involving your team throughout the process helps them to become invested in its success. When your team feels that they had a say in the decision-making process, they are more likely to accept and embrace the changes instead of resisting.

Change is hard for all of us to accept in the beginning. By using your people skills, you can open lines of communication with your team. This simple act grants you the insight that you need to answer questions, allay fears, and more deeply involve your team in the change process, increasing the likelihood of its long-term success.


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