How To Lead a Team Through Change

Change can be uncomfortable for teams. Leading people through change is important to help ease worries, encourage communication, and address uncertainty. Periods of change can be stressful for an organization, but strong, empathetic leadership can help teams move through these transitions successfully.

Leaders have a choice to spread positivity or negativity during a challenging time. Strong leadership can influence whether change is adopted, productivity levels remain consistent, or if the team morale is affected.

Here are several ways to lead through change:
  1. Assemble a strong leadership team ahead of time. …
  2. Bring in outside help. …
  3. Recruit from within. …
  4. Make a plan. …
  5. Designate a point person. …
  6. Hold a meeting. …
  7. Educate and explain. …
  8. Create an employee transition team.

5 ways to lead in an era of constant change | Jim Hemerling

How to lead your team through change

Here are several ways to lead through change:

1. Assemble a strong leadership team ahead of time

Before you approach a company change, be sure to evaluate your leadership team and make any necessary changes. Consider assembling a change management team of people you trust and who are familiar with adapting to change in their careers. Good leaders are open to progress and new ideas.

2. Bring in outside help

For major company-wide changes, such as mergers, acquisitions or leadership changes, consider bringing in a consultant who specializes in transition management to help make the process smoother and more efficient. A consultant can identify potential challenges and help you address them with proven strategies.

3. Recruit from within

Identify possible new opportunities and seek to fill those positions from within the company. Internal promotions show faith in your team and highlight opportunities for growth to other employees. This can help restore trust when employees feel less secure in their jobs.

4. Make a plan

Work with your leadership team to develop a thorough strategic plan. Consider including the following elements:

Ensure all leaders are comfortable with the strategic plan and meet with the change management team regularly, possibly once a month, to revisit the plan and make any necessary adjustments or updates.

5. Designate a point person

Designating a point person for a major change can help employees feel heard. This point person attends status update meetings and remains knowledgeable on all components of company changes. They serve as the main contact for all questions about changes, policies and procedures.

6. Hold a meeting

For major changes, especially those affecting the entire company, consider holding a company-wide meeting to introduce the changes. This will allow everyone to receive the same news at the same time, helping prevent the spread of inaccurate information. The meeting can include:

7. Educate and explain

Employees can better process change when they understand why its happening. Explain the reasoning for changes taking place and discuss employees roles in the transition. Help employees understand your thought process and end goals. Present the transition as a welcome opportunity for growth rather than a painful necessity.

8. Create an employee transition team

Consider creating an employee transition team to monitor employee reactions, feelings and concerns about the changes taking place. This team can meet regularly and report to the change management team, serving as representatives of all employees and allowing staff to feel like their input matters.

9. Prioritize

Decide what is most important for employees to focus on, understanding some reductions in productivity may occur. For instance, you may need to encourage employees to prioritize current accounts over potential new business.

10. Provide resources

Offer resources to help employees manage their emotions and possible anxiety. These resources may include referrals for counselors, extra paid time off or morale-building activities.

11. Keep operations going

With operations moving forward during changes, employees will feel like they are still contributing, and it will help foster a sense of normalcy.

Why is leading through change important?

Leading people through change is important to help ease worries, encourage communication and address uncertainty. Periods of change can be stressful for an organization, but strong, empathetic leadership can help businesses move through these transitions successfully. Leaders have a choice to spread positivity or negativity during a challenging time, leading employees to display a hopeful view of change or an anxious view.

Leaders are important to help their team stay focused despite the distractions that come with changes in the workplace. Strong leadership can influence whether employees maintain productivity levels and how change affects morale.

Tips for leading people through change

Here are some tips for what to do when leading your team through change:

Be honest

Big changes can lead to uncertainty. However, its always best to be honest about the things you know and the things you may not know. If you receive a question and dont know the answer, be transparent.

Allow time for learning

Expect that people learn differently and at different paces. Allow plenty of time for employees to master new policies, new skills or new equipment.

Make yourself available

Encourage open communication and provide a way for employees to voice their opinions, suggestions and concerns. Employees want to feel like their feedback is valuable.

Set an example

Stay positive around others. Approaching a change with an optimistic outlook can help alleviate worries in employees.

Empathize

Recognize that big changes can surprise and concern employees. Extend kindness, patience and empathy to your team during transitions.

What to avoid when leading people through change

Here are several things to avoid when leading people through change:

Set unreasonable expectations

Change can often be a slow process, especially when it involves many separate components, such as departments, managers or facilities. Approach your transition period with reasonable expectations for implementing new policies or procedures, onboarding new staff members or introducing new products or services.

Try to complete all the work yourself

Be sure to delegate responsibilities to your team rather than trying to manage everything yourself. Trust that your team is capable and qualified to manage their duties and avoid micromanaging.

Make decisions unilaterally

Diversity of opinions adds depth to decision-making and helps create inclusive environments.

Ask anything of employees you wouldnt do yourself

Manage the number of hours employees may be putting in to adjust to new processes. Make sure your team is taking regular breaks and time off when needed.

FAQ

How do you successfully lead through change?

Here are several ways to lead through change:
  1. Assemble a strong leadership team ahead of time. …
  2. Bring in outside help. …
  3. Recruit from within. …
  4. Make a plan. …
  5. Designate a point person. …
  6. Hold a meeting. …
  7. Educate and explain. …
  8. Create an employee transition team.

What are the five steps of leading change?

Five steps to successful change
  • 1) Acknowledge and understand the need for change. …
  • 2) Communicate the need and involve people in developing the change. …
  • 3) Develop change plans. …
  • 4) Implement change plans. …
  • 5) Evaluate progress and celebrate success.

What are the essential elements of leading a team through change?

Key elements that a leader should utilize when leading through change include:
  • Clear communication. To prepare an organization for a successful project initiative, a clear definition of why the change is occurring is essential. …
  • Be empathetic, not sympathetic. …
  • Work with the willing. …
  • Hold staff accountable.

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