Change is our bread and butter. Approach Services has been helping leaders and organisations navigate the challenges of change projects and transformation for a decade . We know the patterns.
I had just added another spoon of coleslaw to my plate when Mark squeezed through to the BBQ and started to small talk. It didn’t take us long to find common ground because, like so many organisations, Mark’s employer was going through major changes.
Mark feels the pressure and although he has big hopes for 2020 he’s concerned about how he and his team will manage. He’s not enjoying it right now and finds it hard to get his team motivated to perform. Much energy is spent on rumours and watercooler talks.
Today I’ll share with you our 3 top tips to save employee satisfaction during change. And this is what I shared with Mark and would say to his boss.
Don’t forget the people
We’ve come a long way. With change being more common organisations have become more keyed into the fact that they need Change Management. And so they throw Change Management in the mix of a project team to deal with the people side of change. However, more effective than someone with the title of a Change Manager, is that your leadership team understands how human brains and bodies react to stress and uncertainty. Resistance and worries are inevitable for you as well as your teams. Once you grasp this you will need to be kind, patient and prepared to deal with fight, flight and freeze behaviour. This can not be solved with a mass email.
In our EXCELerate change leadership workshops, we deliberately create a safe space to work through some of the tension that change can cause. Each workshop gives the people simple tools to navigate change. They create confidence and empower in times where people feel most helpless. It will be as important for you as a leader as for anyone in your team to see where you are still in control. This prevents victim mentality.
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Empower confident change leadership
Mark is really keen to be proactive about his situation. I mean on good days he is really on board with the changes, wants to get his team prepared and get going. But then he has to deal with the lack of information, the unforeseen sick days and the overall distraction of people by rumours. Most days it’s hard for him to focus on what matters. He’s really busy and it doesn’t feel good.
Here is the problem: Leaders are the most important asset for companies in change. It doesn’t matter if we are talking about a child care centre, a hospital, a science centre, a mining giant or Coca Cola. Your people will look at you for help to get through the rough waters. But you will look at your leader, and he at his and so forth. And everyone is still trying to find their way. So whilst Mark might not be able to give his team certainty about the ins and outs of every step on the way, he should give his team certainty on how to manage change on an individual level and his intentions.
"Our EXCELerate Change Leadership program does prepare leaders to navigate change with confidence and ease."
Ensure sustainable learning and development
Just as I finished my plate of coleslaw I also wrapped up my advice to Mark. Look, it is tempting to buy in expertise when you are out of your depth. And, yes, it is often wise to do so. Just make sure it is sustainable. Learning a new skill like leading through change and managing change is establishing a new habit. It is actually change in itself.
Therefore you will get excited about it but at the same time feel unsure, you’ll resist when it is too hard and make excuses when you can’t get it to work. To succeed you’ll need someone to hold you accountable. You will need a refresher every now and then until managing change becomes part of how you manage. We recognise this and that is why we ask organsiations to accredit their inhouse trainers on our EXCELerate Change Leadership program. This is a cost-effective and sustainable way to build empowered change leadership across the entire organisation and over time.
A confident leader creates a safe space for his team. Whilst some things are uncertain, there are others that are within your control. A proactive change leader can even help the C-Suite find answers to the questions they haven’t gotten to yet. Resilient change leaders rise to the challenge, commit to the future and work on what is in their control.
Eva is one of the masterminds behind Approach Services' blog and The 6 Cents of Change. She is an innovator, trainer and change manager. Her work has been published in Schmalenbach Journal of Business Research. In her spare time, she enjoys camping with her two little boys and permaculture gardening.
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