Change is never easy, nor is it ever wanted. There can be changes in your personal life and in your work life. Typically personal life changes are something you can control or even change if you don’t like it. On the other hand, when things change at work that is something that you can’t undo. The change is is expected to better the company, but it isn’t always received as such. Here are a couple of tips to follow so that you can be prepared to implement change successfully on your team.
1. Selling the change to your team
The first question that is going to come out of your team is going to be “Why?” Your answer to this question is going to be very crucial. Depending on how you answer this, will affect how your employees take the change.
If you respond aloofish, or uncaring, they will think that the change is something that they don’t need to worry about following. If you respond with you do not know and that you do not believe in the changes, then they will not care about or believe in it either.
Now if you were to respond with clear details of why it is happening, how it affects the company, and then state the next steps for the change you will be met with understanding. They will be able to see the logic of why it is happening, and see that the change is going to better the business.
Sometimes as a leader you may not have all the answers. So it can be helpful to explore the Why with the team early on as their questions can also help understand any potential risks or challenges of the change and inform your risk mitigation plans.
Ultimately if you are excited about the changes, and believe it will better your department, let them know that. It will get them as excited about the changes as you are for it.
If you’re not excited and don’t understand the changes yourself then take some time to work with your management to understand the process, or at least to get clear on the rationale and the projected benefits – no business should be implementing change without a goal in mind!
2. Communicate with your team
Communication is important in all aspects of business, but when there is change, it is even more important.
Communicate as soon as possible when the changes are going to take place and why.
Keep that open communication open for all employees during the transition. Make it clear that you are approachable and set aside regular time for drop in conversations as well as email questions and telephone or skype calls.
Be honest in your conversations, if you don’t know the answer then say so and see what you can to find out or escalate the questions up the chain of command – someone somewhere should be able to answer it and feed it back down to you.
Sometimes it can help to log some of the regular questions and feed them back to the team with answers in an FAQ type format but anonymised of course. In some teams, especially if the changes are challenging, it can also help to have a way of submitting questions through a third party or in an anonymous way.
If there is no open communication, it can lead to gossip and mistrust among the team. No one likes to be left in the dark, so don’t leave your team there.
3. Ask for feedback from your team
During the time of the change, and after it is important to get feedback when you can from your team as much as you can.
This is showing them that what they have to say is important and that you are listening. It can also help you be adaptive in your style, especially if something isn’t working for them as an approach.
This feedback will help the next time that change has to occur. Whether that affects how you roll out the changes, or even what you change. Getting feedback will only improve your business.
No one likes change, but it is necessary in order to thrive in the ever changing business world. Being able to successfully execute changes with minimum down time on your team is going to be crucial. If your team is bogged down with indecisiveness or unease with the change, then you lose in the long run.
In the end change is never easy and how you lead your team through change is perhaps one of the most significant reflections of your leadership style and approach and one that people will remember you for.
As Maya Angelou said “People will forget what you said, people would forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”