In any organization, change and stability must coexist, and it's the role of leaders to manage the balance. Change can be tricky, but necessary in furthering a company’s goals and maintaining relevance in the market.
If leaders aren't equipped to navigate a change, things can go south rather quickly. The rumor mill can start or employees may feel as though they're in the dark, leading to a general feeling of mistrust toward the situation. It will be evident to team members if their leaders aren't on board, which negates the positive intention of making the change.
To avoid a potential derailing of change efforts and assist your company’s leaders with navigating change, here are three steps you can take:
Include leaders in the process, early on
Have your leaders be an active part of putting together the change by incorporating their suggestions and questions in the roll-out. Even if the change isn't something a leader can take an active role in, it's important to continue to be transparent, letting them know that they'll be kept abreast of status and progress updates. If leaders are aware and involved from the get-go, it will help with buy-in – not only from leaders, but their teams as well. When leaders are excited about and embracing the change, it trickles down to their team members. Provide leaders with forums to ask questions and give feedback, or facilitate organizational meetings and discussions where there's an opportunity for leaders to take part in planning future change and bring up any questions or concerns in-person.
Change management training can be incredibly useful for managers to learn how to help their employees through change, i.e. navigating sensitive conversations, addressing hesitancy, etc. It's also a good practice to have leaders take trainings that employees will be assigned, before the employees go through them. This will give leaders an opportunity to provide feedback and flesh out areas where more information is needed – preparing them for colleague questions and readying them to provide constructive answers. Whenever possible, we want to avoid situations where leaders feel under informed or underprepared. Through training, leaders should be taught how to handle questions that they don’t know the answer to, and given a way to escalate the question to get an answer and circle back.
Communicate, communicate, communicate
When it comes to change in an organization, communication is king. Consider creating frequently asked question (FAQ) documents to accompany each internal announcement. FAQs should be given to leaders prior to widely disseminating information, to allow them a chance to distill messages individually, and equip them with prepared answers to questions, concerns, and requests for further information. Additionally, provide leaders with a regular cadence of pertinent information, or leader talking points, summarized into digestible categories to share with teams. This will help ensure that leaders are hitting on key topics with their reports, which leads to clarity amongst employees and less resistance to the change at hand.
Leaders are they key growth agents in a company. They are tasked with driving innovation and change while maintaining their teams’ support, compliance, and commitment. By ensuring leaders are a part of the planning process, adequately trained, and provided with understandable, actionable information, you can help your company’s leaders become confident bastions in facilitating change.
If you’d like to continue a discussion on this topic, reach out – we’d love to help you put these practices into play.