It was Greek philosopher Heraclitus who said, ‘change is the only constant in life’ – and 2020 proved that beyond doubt. If there is one thing we can rely on, it is that the landscape of life will change, sometimes very rapidly.
Change in the workplace can be difficult to navigate, and a poorly prepared team might try to resist change. Strong leadership makes all the difference!
How does change affect my team?
Change can be difficult to accept, especially if you’re not the agent behind it. It can cause feelings of grief and loss, confusion, and a loss of employee confidence in the company. A team that isn’t prepared will resist change, which can result in a variety of problems such as lower productivity, loss of morale, and high turnover of staff.
Change can come from inside the organisation, or from outside. Internal change might seem the easiest to prepare a team for, after all it is based on a decision someone inside the business made, and hopefully based on data and consultation. Externally pressured change is a result of your organisation responding to something they have limited control over. But both types of change can have the same effect on people within an organisation.
A team prepared to manage change has reduced anxiety, increased productivity and is more engaged in both the process and the positive outcome for the organisation. In short, they feel they have ownership and belong, which also improves personal wellbeing.
How can I prepare my team for change?
A strong organisational leader won’t wait for change to happen, they will already be working on supporting their team to be ready for it.
Here are three ways a leader can prepare any team for change:
Build broad skills
One of the key things that causes anxiety and a loss of performance is the feeling of being out of control, or not having the right tools for the job. Regularly identifying the development needs of your team can help prepare and support them to face change. Have regular one-to-ones, consider their goals, and identify skills gaps. Offer your team chances to upskill through individual courses, mentoring or group learning.
Keep everyone informed
People perform well in predictable environments because they feel in control. When an environment becomes unpredictable, the feeling of losing control can cause problems. Have regular meetings with staff to keep everyone up to date on the latest developments – whether you are going through change or not. Position yourself as someone who can be trusted to deliver key information in a timely way. Don’t overload staff though – tools like Trello can be useful as you can post information in a way your team can digest when they have time, and ask questions freely.
Offer your team ownership
Don’t stop with the what of change, embrace the why. Give your team the chance to understand the drivers of change, and to offer feedback on the process being used to manage it. Numerous studies have shown that employees who feel truly engaged and listened to perform better in the workplace – this is even more essential during periods of change.
Want to know more about preparing your staff for change? IMNZ’s Elevate course can help.