Employees turn to their immediate supervisors for cues about how to respond to change. Leaders must be prepared to help individuals on their teams make sense of the change. Ideally, leaders demonstrate their own commitment to the change in actions and words, leading by example and proactively addressing their tems’ barriers.
Effective leaders create opportunities to talk openly about the change. They clearly articulate both the negative and positive impacts of the change. They actively listen as their employees work through questions and concerns. In many cases employees simply want to voice their objections and be heard. While some employees will want to talk about past failed changes and why this change is different, others will need to discuss their personal situation an how this change affects them.
“Frequent and open communication” was cited as top contributor to successful change initiatives in the Best Practices in Change Management – 2016 Edition. Participants also highlighted the importance of consistency, openness and transparency in communication during change. As the resource closest to employees on daily basis and a preferred sender of change messages, leaders play a critical role in change communication.
By understanding each employee’s unique situation and position toward the change, leaders can identify obstacles and sources of resistance. They can assist employees in finding solutions to address these barriers. Understanding what is important to each individual also helps leaders build desire around the most impactful motivators.
For leaders and supervisors to have effective conversations with employees, they must first be onboard with the change themselves. Leaders are employees first. They will be impacted by change and have their own questions an dconcerns. Before they can effectively lead their teams, they must first have opportunity to process and resolve their own uncertainties and fears.
“Leaders have the greatest challenge as they are in charge of translating the change message from the top to their employees. If they don’t understand the change or don’t have the support to do it, it makes them more resistant.”
Too often, the title of manager is overlooked in times of change. It is assumed that the title of manager means an individual is already a leader with the skills to effectively coach and resistance manage. The role of leadership is critically important to influencing desire with employees, but change management and change coaching are sills that need to be developed. The project team, the organizational change team and the executive sponsors must all be active in equipping managers to be prepared to lead during change.