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Management: Helping Your Team Deal With Change
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Management: Helping Your Team Deal With Change - Executive Leadership Articles

Management: Helping Your Team Deal With Change

Executive Leadership Articles

Management: Helping Your Team Deal With Change

Nothing gets better by staying the same

Yet change, for all its potential for making things better, can also make things worse. This unpredictability makes people nervous—sometimes fearful. It should also be said that when employees resist change, it’s largely because they identify positively with the way things are. It’s a sentiment that should never be discouraged, but how do you encourage them to embrace change while hanging on to what they already value?

Change is coming, but so is continuity

Two recent studies summarized in the Harvard Business Review suggest an emphasis on what will remain the same. In the first, a survey of more than 200 employees and managers show that announcements for major organizational change (including relocations, expansions, and reorganizations) were met more positively the more their leaders communicated continuity.

The second study surveyed more than 200 business students at a college. Students received emails about major changes to the business school curriculum. Some received messages only about the changes, while others received messages also highlighting the parts of the curriculum remaining unchanged. Again, students receiving the continuity messages were more positive about the changes. Interestingly, some messages expressed low uncertainty about the outcomes from these changes, while some messages expressed high uncertainty. More uncertainty meant even stronger positive reactions if students received the continuity message.

This is not to encourage leaders to manufacture uncertainty only to gain better buy-in from teams. Rather, it illustrates that even when major changes are afoot, a strong message about what’s going to remain the same can bridge the uncertainty for better acceptance from the team.

Listen and hear

Naturally, there will still be apprehensions. This is where the listening part of the communication skills you’ve honed over the years comes into play. Don’t just go through the motions: listen to what’s really making your team members nervous. If a theme repeats itself (such as parking; it’s always parking!), and if assurances by themselves aren’t enough, do something. Yes, employees often complain because complaining is part of the change process, but don’t treat the major, common themes as something to “get over.” You’re a leader. Do everything you possibly can to resolve those big concerns: it’s your chance to show you really care about what matters most to the people working for you. Glossing over the issue and trusting that everyone will adjust, even if it’s true, is no way to take advantage of an opportunity to show your valued team members that their concerns are your concerns.

Reference link:
Harvard Business Review: https://hbr.org/2018/08/research-to-get-people-to-embrace-change-emphasize-what-will-stay-the-same

 

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