Leadership Actions When Change Comes
Change brings with it many different feelings and emotions, both for managers and staff alike. Whilst we cannot ignore change, we must work with it to get the outcomes that are needed.
Leadership actions need to respond to the feelings and attitudes of those who you are managing – these feelings and attitudes boil down into the following areas:
- Denial: this means showing people the facts and giving concrete examples of how things will change going forward. This must also include emphasising the reasons for change but, very importantly, allowing everybody to air their views while being shown the bigger picture of what change will bring and why it is important.
- Anxiety and Resentment: change brings with it fear and distrust, so it is essential to allow staff to at least air their grievances. Whilst this us a good way to relieve some pressure staff do need to know the consequences of not adapting to the changes that are coming. Always make it clear that change cannot be reversed.
- Apathy: this occurs where staff are distrustful of what is going on and show little or no appetite for the change process, however it is presented. The leader here must provide some encouragement, even if this is done in small steps and with small, practical examples. Emphasise that their work is important and accompany this with tasks to complete that are meaningful and which push effort in the direction that change requires. Quick wins here will always show positive outcomes and will always boost confidence, morale and motivation.
- Exploring opportunities: some staff will see change as an opportunity for personal and professional development, hence focus here on how their role and responsibility feeds into the change process and how it will have a positive impact on what the organisation is trying to achieve. It is essential here to provide clear goals, regular feedback and positive, open communication to keep their enthusiasm as high as possible.
Change management is never easy, and if itdoes seem too easy, then you are probably missing something! In delivering change it is essential to determine long-term goals, keep emphasising successes (even if some of them are relatively small ones!) and encourage both in public and in private those staff who are responding well.
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