Helping Your Team To Embrace Change

June 15, 2016

 

The pace of change occurring within companies these days is phenomenal, and there’s no sign of things slowing down. As a manager, it can be incredibly frustrating when you are under pressure to achieve certain targets and deadlines to find members of your staff resisting or possibly sabotaging the required change. 

 

Often managers are not equipped to motivate their staff to shift from resisting change to embracing it but there are some simple steps that can be taken that can help. 

 

Get to know your people

Spend time to get to know the people in your team.  Humans are social animals, and given that we spend a large chunk of their waking hours at work, it’s not surprising that work often forms an important social function. Your team members need to feel safe and connected with the people in they work with, including you.  Building a rapport with them allows for a better working relationship, as it is easier for us to know how to adapt our communication so that it resonates with them, leaving them feeling happier and secure in their environment. 

 

Treat your staff as individuals

By treating your staff as individuals, understanding their goals and aspirations along with their strengths and weaknesses, you may be surprised at what you find.  By working with a staff member on an individual basis, you may find hidden depths, and their drives and aspirations could be harnessed to benefit you both.  In doing so may find a more satisfied and motivated individual working for you and embracing the changes ahead.  Additionally, look to praise honestly; research shows that most people seek positive affirmation on a job well done, and that positive reinforcement leads to increased commitment, and higher levels of motivation. 

 

Lead don’t Manage 

Be a good leader, be honest and truthful, focus on offering drive and direction, and draw on team members to provide knowledge and skills. Team members that are treated as equals and empowered to use their abilities will become more enthused, more motivated. By moving your role to that of a servant leader (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Servant_leadership) you will help your staff to develop and perform as highly as possible. 

 

Share your vision for success

Imagine yourself jumping into taxi and when driver says, “Where to?” are you going to say, “I don’t care. Just drive!” or are you going to give a specific destination?  Getting to your destination requires you to communicate clearly, as will your vision for success.  

 

Share your vision of the changes ahead with your team, and share it in a tangible way.  Avoid ‘fluffy’ statements that sound good, but are hard for people to visualise and comprehend. Make the vision clear enough that your staff can imagine what things will be like once the goals have been achieved. 

Enable each individual team member to see what the change will look like, and how it will impact them on a personal level, and allow the team to see they can each contribute and work collaboratively, inspiring them to join you on the journey. 

 

Take micro-steps to deliver the vision

When the roadmap is presented as a fait accompli – something that’s decided without any team input - there is the danger that individual team members may feel uncomfortable with the change and, as a result, enter a ‘blame cycle’, avoiding what’s required,  rationalising their avoidance behaviour, vocalising excuses, and then they may even start blaming others for a failure to deliver. 

 

When it comes to planning, goals and milestones are often the main focus for reporting to the senior level management and stakeholders, which should leave you free to deal with the ‘nitty gritty’. 

By encouraging the whole team to get involved in the more granular planning sessions, and by allowing them to define the micro-steps needed to reach the end goal (the detailed specifics of the delivery process), will help you to anticipate and pre-empt potential problems and help to avoid, or intercept, the types of behaviour that can negatively impact your journey. 

 

Empower your team

With the vision shared, the roadmap laid out and the micro-steps defined, and having built rapport and trust within the team, we have aligned the goals, and the team now needs to be given sufficient autonomy to carry out the tasks. 

 

We need to empower our team to make choices and take decisions within the context of boundaries agreed during the planning stages to enable them to feel that they have control over their immediate environment. For example, there are multiple ways to code a piece of software, as long as standards are met, we should not need to be overly prescriptive of how a coder should tackle the task. 

 

As part of the empowerment process, we also need to provide a ‘safe’ environment in which our staff can verbalise any issues that they may have, to ensure that emotions are not just ‘bottled-up’ as studies have shown that suppression of these emotions can result in physical reactions which may, in turn, affect your staff’s cognitive functions, health, and ultimately, their performance. By providing an open environment where staff members feel safe in voicing issues and concerns, people will work in a more relaxed and productive way.  

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