On this beautiful Autumn morning I hear crunching underfoot as I walk on a golden-brown carpet of leaves created by Mother Nature herself. This is a small pleasure I look forward to each year as we transition from Summer to Autumn. Throughout the year Nature leads us through the changing seasons giving us little signs like snowdrops sneaking up through the soil in Spring, bees buzzing in Summer, chestnuts clunking on the ground in Autumn and freezing frost in Winter. As sure as change is in nature, the same is true in business, change is constant, and we need leadership to guide us through just as nature guides us through the changing seasons.
Very often organisations master the operational side of change but give little effort to the people side. If we don’t look after our people through the organisation’s transition period, it will not happen smoothly. The effects are felt all around an organisation with people reacting in different ways. People will either see it as positive or negative, exciting or frightening, essential or unnecessary, easy or hard and in most cases a combination of all of these. Central to helping people process and embrace change are leaders; they must become agents of change helping people understand why it’s needed and what this means for them, their customers and the business.
Here are some tips for leaders to lead change effectively:
Put yourself first
Take time to understand what the change means for you first, note down any questions or concerns that come to mind so that you can discuss these with your own leader. It’s very likely that the questions you have will be similar for individuals in your team. Once you have taken some time out to digest the change at a personal level you will be ready to reflect on what this means for your team and prepare your plan of action to lead change effectively.
Share the Why
You can’t expect people to engage with and embrace change if they don’t understand why it’s happening in the first place. Alongside raising awareness about the nature of the change, you must take time to help people understand the cause behind it, the benefits it will bring, and the risks associated with not implementing it. Connecting the change to your organisational vision and values will also help people grasp that it is necessary.
Communicate with Openness and Transparency
Communication is the glue that holds everything together when going through a transition period. If it’s not strong enough people will break away from the actual change and start to make up their own stories which can lead to people feeling uncertain, anxious or even angry. Regular communication touch points are essential to ensure people hear the right story, and have an opportunity to ask questions in order to help them process change and cope well through the transition. This can be done through team time, drop in sessions, listening groups, change coaching and simply letting your team know that you are there for them if they are unclear about any of the developments.
Build and Sustain Momentum
Change should not be a one-off project that ends with a ‘go live date’; just like the seasons, transformational change is something that happens organically over time. Leaders therefore need to build a strategy that inspires their team to embrace the change and keep motivated to be at their best in order to help land things smoothly. Leaders can sustain positive momentum by role modelling the right behaviour and keeping people engaged and informed by keeping communication channels open.
If you follow these tips you will help your team transition well and adapt to change; just as Mother Nature guides us through the changing seasons encouraging us to fully embrace and enjoy the positivity that each changing season brings.
Our Learning Experiences team works with organisations worldwide to create results-driven learning experiences.
If you want to discuss how we help organisations get the best out of their people, please get in touch with the team via firstname.lastname@example.org.