Leadership During Change
Leading your team through change requires that you lead from the front. You do this by setting an example. Create a compelling picture of the risks of not changing and a clear vision of the future. Then communicate your plan of action. Engage your team members by communicating your vision frequently. This process creates shared ownership of the actions required to manage the change.
People who consider themselves victims of change often complain that they didn’t receive adequate communication about and during the change. It’s critical to have a communication plan before you introduce change. Don’t starve your team members of information during the change. To support your vision of change, they must know what’s coming down the line. Your plan should communicate the “What,” “When,” and “How” of change.
Your Team’s Attitude About Change
The biggest factors in your team’s response to change are their beliefs and perceptions. How your team members feel about a change predicts the results they will produce. If your team believes that change threatens their security, they will fear and resist it. If your team recognizes that the change presents them with an opportunity, they will feel excited and move toward it.
Change is a process; don’t expect your practice or individual team members to change in all respects at one time. An important part of leading your team through change is to reassure them that your practice and operations are stable.
Identify What Won’t Change
Revisit your foundation. Remind your team that the foundation upon which your practice is built will not change. Review your mission statement as often as you need to: “Remember, our focus is ¼ and our goals are¼” When your team feels that change is turning their world upside down, reassure them that a stable foundation continues to exist, one they can use as the springboard for making change.
Point out all the things that will remain constant during the change. It may be a challenge to identify the constants because these may be things that you take for granted. The physical space people work in or the tasks they perform may change, for example, but the open, honest communication and support they receive will not.
You have invested time and energy in training your team to perform their jobs. Your team members have invested as much time and energy in learning. When a change is needed, it is natural for your team to feel that their learning efforts have been in vain or fear that their current skills will be useless in the future. To counter this, draw attention to all the skills your team members have that will continue to be of value after the change.
Promote a climate favoring change. Nurture an environment in which your team members feel safe to take reasonable risks, make mistakes, and share their disagreements with you. Explicitly let them know that it is okay to take risks and that you anticipate some mistakes.
Revisit your foundation, assure your team that the things that you and they value will stay the same, and create a climate in which your team feels free to express their thoughts and concerns. And never miss an opportunity to celebrate along the way. Don’t neglect to celebrate even the smallest achievements. This is the time to say, “See? We can do this together!” This is the time to say, “Thank you everyone for your hard work and enthusiasm!”