Change is both exciting and frightening. Whether you’re just imagining something new or different or you’re putting the pieces in place to take action – getting everyone on board can be a challenge. Why? People tend to instinctively fear change and find the unknown uncomfortable. How people navigate change in their personal lives can also be something that changes how they respond to change in the workplace.
As a leader, you need to consider how the change you are about to enact will affect the people around you, not just from the intended outcomes, but from the less obvious impacts.
When Does Change Really Begin?
In our personal lives, change usually centers around defining moments – graduating high school, getting married, having kids… but when change occurs in our business lives – sometimes we’re less aware of when it all begins (especially when you’re not part of the decision-making or steering team).
At work, more often than not, we must abandon certain ways of doing things in order to move forward. But, letting go isn’t always easy – sometimes even a positive change can bring on a sense of loss or grief that what is coming will force us to rethink all the ways we have performed in the past.
From a leader’s perspective, change really begins when you start the process of communicating change. That’s why it’s really important to start off with the right messages. Remember, your team may feel “unreasonably” vulnerable, considering that they don’t know what lies ahead and how the change will benefit them or the company in the long run.
How to Engage a Strong Leadership Approach
Beginning change by communicating with your team at the outset is ideal for brainstorming and engaging people with the company’s future vision. While early communication isn’t always possible, it can’t be understated that when employees are part of the initial conversation and direction of the company, “change buy-in” is often easier to obtain. When people believe in the plan, the end goal becomes more compelling, engaging and inclusive.
Getting a team to understand why a change is important and how it fits into the mission can calm their fears and empower them to make decisions aligned with the future now. This can make for smoother sailing right off the bat.
How to Tell if Change is Being Embraced
Here are some tell-tale signs that the way you’re approaching change management is working.
- Engagement: When people inside the company ask productive questions, that shows that they are listening and care about the future of their work and the health of the company.
- Independence: Seeing employees work to be self-sufficient, independent, and an active part of the change. Independence and ownership shows investment and commitment to the new “normal” aka, the change.
- Brainstorming: Active research by employees on topics relevant to the company is not only helpful to roadmap, but it will help spark new and productive conversations.
- Positivity: Individual and team celebrations of success will be natural and will influence your company culture making work a happier place to be.
- Proof of ROI: Data will show that the company is successfully meeting its goals in both tangible and intangible ways.
- Leveling Up: Leaders will begin resetting small goals to help move the company forward, providing opportunities for employees to hit their targets in easy-to-reach timeframes.
Celebrating Positive Outcomes of a Transition
Managing change smartly and with compassion for employees can lead to positive outcomes that will improve the well-being of the company and the team. You can expect:
- Better employee engagement and a higher level of commitment to the company’s vision
- Improved performance by employees in their roles
- Development of innovation and experimentation
- A rise in a problem-solving mentality
- Improved communication between teams
- Greater employee satisfaction and job retention
External and internal forces mean that change will always happen, but with Change Management, you can help form the outcomes into positive and productive outputs. Remember to be on the lookout for signs that change is going well and prepare for the moments that are sure to arise when you need to correct the course to stay on track.