Your role as a leader in times of transformative change is to identify what stage of the change your employees are in and do everything you can to support them through it. One of the most important components of change leadership — and the most effective way to drive adoption of the change taking place — is to role model the behaviors you want them to demonstrate.
During the initial phase of the change, employees are often feeling a sense of loss. Your job as a change leader is to help them through the change journey, shift their mindset, and model the desired change behaviors by:
- Helping employees take responsibility for the role they play in the change
- Managing expectations around the change
- Having an open door policy and being present
- Being as transparent as possible and encouraging other managers to do the same
- Enabling employees to see the possibilities the change will bring
- Keeping people productive
- Reducing unnecessary worry
When the transformation is in full-swing, and employees are beginning to adjust their behaviors to align with the “new normal,” you can continue modeling desired change behaviors by:
- Helping people take advantage of teaming opportunities
- Being a strong advocate for communication
- Listening to your teams’ questions and helping them understand the transition
- Helping employees use proactive and constructive language in moments of anxiety and negativity
- Challenging others to be patient through the change
- Utilizing the strengths of team members during this time to stay focused on performance
Effective change leadership is about showing your employees you are with them through the change by not only communicating consistently with your whole team, but engaging people in one-on-one conversations. Ask them questions through each phase of the change to coach them through the transition.
As they move through the initial mindset shift required to begin the change journey ask them:
- What do you need to let go of?
- What should you hold on to?
After the mindset shift has taken hold, and employees begin to navigate their way to the new normal, make sure to ask them:
- What is within your control?
- What is beyond your control?
And as they finally reach the new normal — the end of the change journey — ask them:
- What is pulling you forward?
- What is pulling the company forward?
Coaching your employees through change gives space for them to get their real emotions out in the open, so that you have a deeper understanding of what they’re feeling as they move through the transition — and how you, as a change leader, can help them. Make sure you are showing your commitment to connecting with them, showing empathy for their concerns, and doing what you can to help build acceptance of the change.
Elena is a consultant at Blue Beyond with expertise in organizational development, leadership development, and talent management. She holds a PhD in Industrial Organizational Psychology and has contributed to published research entitled “Managers’ and Diversity Experts’ Perceptions of Multiculturalism and Internationalism in Organizations.”