Whether you are an entrepreneur of a small or large company, or are a leader/ manager/ executive with a corporation, one of the biggest challenges you may face is leading your team through change. As the business grows, so does the team, so do the processes and so on. Change is tough on all of us, as humans we innately are eased when we know what to expect, we innately calm when the anxiety of the unknown is diminished, and we feel successful when what’s expected of us is achievable and mastered.
But what we also know is we don’t tend to stay in that comfort zone long. Denver is growing, business is booming so we better be evolving in order to keep up. You may be a go-getter and therefore enjoy the challenge of change and learning something new. Good for you! I personally like being stimulated in that way, but even I like a break from change every once in awhile to strengthen my performance.
Your team, however, they might not be the same as you. Change might be excruciatingly challenging, frustrating, and it may throw them into vulnerability and insecurity. So here are a few things to consider when leading your team through change:
1. Just being aware of how change might affect your team and knowing that everyone deals with it differently is a great starting point. As mentioned, some folks like the challenge, some are completely threatened by it. Getting to know your people on a personal level will inform you on how they want to be communicated to, and how they deal with change. Take a look within and examine how you deal with change. All eyes will be on you during this transition.
2. Effective communication is imperative. Map out your communication plan. Depending on the change you might want to have one on one’s with those most impacted followed by group meetings to inform the team. Use a calendar to map out when you are having all of these conversations and put time aside for follow up conversations with those who need it. Make yourself available during this time. The order of who finds out information and when they hear it will impact your team culture – for example if a newer employee finds out about an important change before one of your managers, your manager will feel less valued and empowered, therefore potentially less supportive of the change.
3. Explain the why’s – treat your team as the stakeholders they are. What is changing and why? How is this change going to impact them, the business, your company goals, and mission – tie it to the big picture. How will it benefit the team, customer, and business. And be transparent about the challenges you all may face in light of this change. Initially there may be some kinks to work out, but “here is how we are going to work through them”. Gaining the teams buy-in to change is essential in rolling it out effectively.
4. Ask for their input, as feasible. After explaining the change and the why’s, ask them how they feel and what they think about this change. Just being heard goes a long way for folks. Ask them how they see this change positively impacting the business? What obstacles are they foreseeing? They may provide insight you hadn’t considered, and now you can get in front of it.
5. Have a training plan in place – and follow up measures to ensure everyone is on board, is getting the knowledge they need and is executing to the new standard. Celebrate with your team when they are on the program and provide honest, open, and timely feedback and ongoing training to those who are not quite on the program.
6. Do what you can to make it fun! Play Bingo as part of the training, have a competition among your team with rewards, make a poster and plaster successes all over the office. Laughter makes everything better…oh and happy engaged teams, and increased sales do too.
Some of your team may embrace change – those are most likely your leaders and managers, and some will be extremely resistant to change. Attitude is key, but the team is more likely to join you on the growth journey when they feel valued, informed, heard, and when they are clear on the expectation.
If you are an entrepreneur and would like counseling, coaching, or small business consulting, give me a call to set up a meeting to discuss a course of supportive action for you and your team. Being an business owner, leader, and manager brings a great deal of responsibility, and in my experience investing in your personal and professional development is beneficial to your long-term success.