Leading teams through change was a daily activity for managers in the heyday of corporate downsizing and restructuring. Leaders became change hardy – accustomed to dealing with change. Those same skills are needed today, as change is back with a vengeance. Let’s review important change principles and terminology.
- Change is something that happens in an instant, with a decision
- Processing the change is called a transition and takes time
- There are two transitions – personal and organizational
- The two transitions occur simultaneously but are not always equally successful
While being the guiding light to support your team through their personal transitions, you also need to manage the team transition and your transition. It’s a tough position to be in, but that’s why you are in the leadership role.
Now is your time to display the strength and character the company saw in you to select you for leadership. Having co-written the Change Management Workshop for a worldwide career consulting company, I have several helpful tips.
Contrary to popular belief, employees don’t always resist change and struggle to accept it. Beyond understanding the transition curve and continually assessing where your team is on the curve, you need to know the two factors that help teams accept change and successfully transition.
Employees tend to accept change more when they choose it (or have input into the change) OR when they benefit by it. How do you involve the team to take advantage of these?
- Upper management requires that something change – have the team choose what changes
- Upper management specifies what changes – have the team choose how to implement it
- You share with the team how you believe they benefit by the change
- Ask or task the team to identify how they believe they benefit by the change
Realize that even the smallest amount of input or benefit goes a long way. Do your best to find ways to give the team input where you can, and help them see the benefit(s); even the frequently overlooked and downplayed benefits.
One additional tip – during major change a common leader reaction is to withdraw. In his book Managing Transitions William Bridges suggests just the opposite is needed.
- Be more visible,
- more accessible,
- more supportive,
- give them more direction,
- provide them with more structure,
- communicate more, and listen more!
The small things you do for them will be appreciated now more than ever.
One last point – please take care of yourself – you are needed at the front!