Change Leadership: Managing the People Side of Change

You have heard it said a billion times. Change is hard. So how can you be strategic; it may be hard but not impossible. Let us explore some ways to develop an effective change management plan that works for you and your team.

Change often happens in organizations. Employees come and go, leadership fine-tunes organizational goals, workload priorities get modified, and growth happens. The only constant thing about change is change itself. However, you can be there for your employees to better prepare for it, and coordinate workplace change efforts so that it happens effortlessly. As leaders, you need to handle and delegate the workplace change efforts effectively to be successful and adopted by the entire organization.

First, you need to model the change. It would be best if you led by example. If you walk around the workplace being grouchy and bad-mouthing the upcoming change, then everyone around you will resist it.

Make sure that you communicate the changes. Answer questions when they are asked of you. Often open communication between team members and managers and employees is critical in times of change. Do not let rumours lead you afield. Provide clear direction or clarification when something is vague. Encourage your employees to learn everything there is to know about the change from the most reliable sources first. Do not have them jump to conclusions. Ask them not to listen to gossips or hearsay but to ask for clarification from you.

What are the requirements of the new job, what skills, from your old position can you bring to the new one? In other words, instead of focusing on differences, focus on similarities. We find that only 5% of the population do not like any change at all. About 65% of the employees will accept some changes as long as they feel their some similarity to the situation. Twenty percent of the population love change, the more, the better. They need significant change about 1-2 years. While 10% will accept the change before they look for things that are the same, they will give more attention to anything that is new and different then most employees.

Do you remember when Coke tried to introduce the New Coke? When they tested the taste of New Coke, the results were conclusive: New Coke tasted better than the old Coke. However, they could not have tested the name. Only a maximum of 30 percent of the population in work is interested in new, according to Rodger Bailey’s work. However, this was a soft drink. How many people do you think would want to drink something new in soft drinks, as opposed to what they know, trust, and buy consistently? Apparently, not very many. Coca Cola responded and returned old Coke to the market. They called it Coke Classic, which is familiar to the majority of the population.

Around the same time Labatt Blue, a Canadian beer understood the pattern. They produced a billboard campaign with the slogan: “Tired of the same, old thing? Neither are we.”

Maintaining a positive attitude during times of changes may not always be easy, especially when negative thoughts leak into the workplace. Chrissy Scivicque of explains: “Let go of the feelings you have associated with the old way of doing things. Comfort can be more emotional than rational. Remember that you are limitlessly flexible and that growth almost always comes with discomfort.” They say that having the right attitude could provide you more chances to improve and further your career. By embracing new changes with an optimistic, proactive, and flexible approach, you will be seen as an adaptable and accomplished participant. This can have a positive impact on your growth in the workplace. These positive results can endorse why change is such a necessary process.

As a change leader ensure that you involve all your employees in the process and help them break from the past. Use your role to get people to focus on what might be better, not worse, after the change. One of the crucial causes for employees is struggling with change is that they try to keep doing the same things in the same way as before, even though things are different now. By inspiring your team to think innovatively about how they can take advantage of the new environment.

Create a supportive learning environment. Having fun is the first thing that goes out the window when fear of change in the workplace rears its ugly head. Find ways of bringing laughter to work to keep people positive and productive.

“Yes, but” is the phrase of resisting change and seen as an eraser. Instead get your team to focus on using, “yes, and” and make sure you use the phrase “yes, and” as well.

So have an open mind, listen carefully, ask questions, clarify and participate in the change discussion from the onset. Also, know your rights as an employee of the organization even if you are in management.

Demonstrate a genuine concern for aspects of change that you do not understand. Seek guidance if you feel uncertain. Be positive. What does this mean? How is this going to work? How does this affect what I do? Knowing what you can control and what you have no control over will help you in your energy and achievements. 

Take care of yourself. Recognize that different emotions are caused by change. Listen to your body. Speak to and relax with trusted colleagues, friends and family members. Maintain a balanced diet, exercise, and get enough rest. Enjoy your pastimes. Be practical and realistic about change.

Handling change requires flexibility on your part, so practice being flexible. The more capable you are to adapt to change, the higher your chances of being successful.

Remember, change is constant, but your future is optimistic! Why? You now know how to cope with change a bit better now.

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