Lesson From a Change Management Skeptic

Change is one thing most people can agree they do not like. Change management is an art of sorts, requiring individuals and groups to change course. This is uncomfortable, unwanted and unfun (if that’s a word) to do.

I went from change management skeptic to a ninja change practitioner for one reason and one reason only…survival! Not embracing change was a recipe for disaster and even losing my job. Instead, I chose to become agile, flexible and embrace change. It took time.

I grew up in corporate America, and like all workplaces, change happens quickly and I was forced to adapt your skills and mindset on a Canadian dime (yes, smaller in size than a U.S. dime).

If you allow yourself to embrace change, you will have an advantage over those you work with. It is a secret power that helps navigate difficult times. It also allows you to move forward easier, albeit, still with challenges quicker than many of your fellow employees.

Communication is the Key

According to Harvard Business School, clear and focused communication is one of the most powerful tools in your arsenal. Employees and team members need to understand the need for change, as well as how it will impact their job responsibilities.

As a sales leader, I added one more thing to make sure my teams had everything needed to succeed. I listened. I listen really well to individuals and my team. They had great points and needed to vent, discuss openly and discuss some more. Unfortunately, not all leaders listen well, and their staff suffers. Lack of communication, lower trust and even feelings of disdain begin to play out in front of us. It is uncomfortable to see/watch, completely unnecessary and unhelpful. It lowers productivity too!

Communication is essential to navigating change. This comes from the top down and can make the difference between retaining staff, successful moving through change and not seeing a decrease in productivity. According to Beehive Strategic Communications, leaders make change easier when they engage employees in the change. Leaders accomplish this through proactive change management communication that creates a desire to change across the workforce.

Management’s Role in Change

Some of our best and brightest employees can struggle during times of change. It’s hard wiring that can slow down the progress and effectiveness of their work. Kicking butt at your job and being good at navigating change are not necessarily one in the same.

That’s why leaders need to be adept at change management. Helping others is good for our company which, in turn, is good for business. Plus, there is an added benefit of being good at navigating change.

Eyes are watching. I saw this play out dozens of times. Management has it tough when their company goes through change. And they are consciously/subconsciously watching their direct reports and others to evaluate their abilities during challenging times. Guess whose names are mentioned when openings for new positions and advancement are made available? Yes. Being able to make your way through challenging times of change makes you look good to others come promotion time!

There is an easy path to illuminate for staff during times of change. Listen well. Communicate often with updates. Show you care. Lead from a place of understanding that individuals have different abilities to successfully navigate change.

There are more tips, but these ideas above helped me stay focused on my team instead of just me. What are you doing that helps you and others successfully navigate change?