Change is inevitable. Navigating change can be challenging, however; especially if you are a leader who wants to help your employees successfully manage change. With so many external forces currently contributing to unprecedented stressors (e.g., pandemic, racial issues, politics), it’s important that leaders are aware how some of the changes may be affecting their workers.
Leaders’ Role in Helping Employees Manage Change
Effectively managing change as a leader means working closely with employees. It takes intuition, skill, strong listening, and effective communication to do it well, which can result in additional respect and loyalty for you as a leader. Handled poorly, it can have the opposite effect on both your business and your people.
Because a leader’s role is the most dynamic within any organization, the role requires you to be mindful at all times about what happens in your company. As a leader, your best approach is to create and foster a culture that actually embraces change. If workers understand that your company is not only open to change, but also encourages it, that knowledge can help determine if an individual is a right fit for your company from the outset. Deciding how to help employees manage change can easily be ingrained in a company’s culture as well.
Employees need to not only hear that your door is open and that you are available to discuss changes and other issues – they need to see it put into practice. People thrive when they feel heard, so communicating is an integral part of this process. Acknowledging anxiety and either reassuring your workers or talking through all the what-ifs encourages them to be open about how they’re feeling. And leaders should care how their employees feel because it ultimately affects the bottom line.
Simply talking about the pressures can help your workers deal with change. An effective way to do this is through periodic, empathetic check-ins that give you a chance to see how employees are doing and learn how you can continue to support them. Some workers – like highly sensitive people for instance – may need more frequently scheduled check-ins than others, so keep different personalities in mind when making time to help employees manage change.
And this may sound like odd advice, but don’t tell people how to feel when they come to you. In other words, dismissing their concerns with “Everything will be fine” can actually do more to add to their anxiety as opposed to your being transparent about any possible roadblocks. By creating a safe space for honest discussions, leaders create connections and employees feel acknowledged. Talk realistically about any challenges they may be facing and decide together how to move forward.
Create a Plan
Seek first to understand your workers’ difficulties as you try to help them make progress through the change cycle. Clearly define goals for managing change and create a plan with employees so they are better prepared to cope with challenges – even if they might initially need your help to do so. If your workers have been worthy of your praise and attention up until now, they are surely worth the additional investment of helping them manage change.
Don’t Underestimate Change Management Skills
Effective leaders are important sources of trust, stability, meaning, and resilience in the workplace. Your actions and your capacity to lead with compassion play a key role in how valued your employees feel – as well as whether they decide to continue working for you. If you are looking for ways to more effectively help your employees manage change, schedule a Breakout Session now.