Leading through the change
Written by: Renée LeMoine
Photo by: Vojtěch Vlk
Our company has revised its strategic plan and top management will start implementing it next month. However the new strategy means reorganizing one department, and is making its team really nervous.
Seldom is change an easy process for everyone involved. While one team will gain resources, it inevitably means that another team will make sacrifices. In this case, it may be helpful to think in terms of how the change will improve the overall efficiency of the company, rather than what one team will loose.
Your leadership task is to ease them through this painful process. You have already taken an important step by being aware of how change initiatives are affecting morale. Anticipating doubt and selling your staff on the change process are the next critical steps. Leading your staff through change can be made easier if you are aware of the change management phases:
- Educate employees ahead of time that change will occur. They will appreciate being informed before rather than after.
- Encourage them to participate by being a part of the solution, rather than only reacting to those that top management created. They can’t complain about changes being made if they never offered alternatives.
- Communicate how change will be implemented. Try storyboards showing the final changes, and expected results for each group concerned.
- Facilitate change by demonstrating the leader’s personal involvement and investment in the project. Communicating and coaching can only go so far. The team needs to see the leader get his hands dirty too.
- Stay informed. The leader must keep his ear to the ground to determine what is and is not working. Informal, non-threatening encounters with the team will provide valuable feedback.
- Analyze, evaluate, and redirect the progress of the change process. It may be necessary to make a few minor unplanned changes during the implementation process in order to achieve a more effective outcome.
Change management phases as defined by Gleick, James. Chaos: Making a New Science. New York: Harmony 1985.
Article prepared by Renée LeMoine, Executive Director, LeMoine & Associates