Change is inevitable, and as businesses adapt to rapidly changing markets it is more certain and more frequent than ever before. But how do you effectively lead your team through a restructure, relocation or major system or process change? Almost as certain as the need for change itself is the likelihood that you will encounter some form of resistance.
We embrace many massive personal changes in life like moving homes, marriage and new jobs. But these are elective changes that we’ve chosen for ourselves. Imposed change can bring about quite a different reaction.
- Loss of control
- Fear of losing our job, status or responsibilities
- Having to deal with ambiguity and additional workload during the transition
- Being pushed out of our comfort zone resulting in concerns about whether we have the right skills or experience to be successful in the new environment
- Loss of things that are valued
These are some of the reasons that people even with relatively minor changes proposed to their job can strongly resist.
To successfully negotiate change as a leader you must seek to understand and address the different emotional impact on each person in your team.
Most of us will move through a cycle of denial, resistance, exploration of options and information and finally commitment or acceptance of the change. Recognising where each member of your team is at will help you to move them through the process.
- Denial – allow people time and space to let things sink in, provide as much information as possible and clarify why you are making the change
- Resistance – encourage involvement, provide channels for feedback, keep communicating and reinforcing your key messages
- Exploration – share the progress that has been made and what needs to happen next
- Commitment / Acceptance – measure and celebrate successes, set short and long-term goals and focus on embedding the change and continuing to make improvements
If you’re still facing negativity and resistance, encourage your team to focus their energy only on what they can change or influence and then take action. Set up a session to discuss their concerns and divide these concerns into three groups:
- What they can change or control themselves
- What they can influence
- What is outside of their control or influence
Follow this up by brainstorming what actions they can take to change or influence the issues from these categories. You can also talk about strategies for letting go or moving on from what cannot be controlled or influenced.
Lastly – look after people impacted by change, and look after yourself!
In restructuring processes, it’s important to check in with your team regularly. Offer them support and encourage them to seek support from others in their network. This could include family, friends, a counselor, careers counselor or financial adviser. There are a number of government-funded organisations and resources available as well as services your company can access to assist and support your employees.
- Acknowledge and celebrate the wins – big or small
- Accept people’s actions and behaviours as their responses to change and don’t take them personally
- Take care with your own responses
- Vent when you need to – but to the right person
- Take care of yourself by eating well, getting enough sleep and making time for exercise and relaxation
In any change or restructuring process, it is essential that you follow proper HR processes.
Here at Positive People we have a proven track record in managing successful change processes that meet legislative obligations and support you to help your team feel respected, supported, involved and informed throughout the process. If we can help you with a change process, please call us on 09 445-1077.