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9 Ways Great Managers Can Lead Through Change

December 1, 2016 Developing Managers

Businesses are implementing changes more rapidly than ever before. In a climate where technology is constantly innovating, competition is growing and investor demand is no longer as predictable, this trend is only going to continue. According to a survey from Strategy&, the success rate of major change initiatives is only 54%.

With change comes the need for leadership to not only decrease anxiety and skepticism but to arouse excitement in order to ensure success. Here are 9 ways great managers can lead their teams through change.

Make sure everyone has the same vision.

The Strategy& report says that 44% of employees don’t understand the change they’re being asked to make and more than one-third of them say they don’t agree with it. To implement a successful organizational change, it’s absolutely crucial that everyone be on the same page regardless of what level they are within the company.

Be confident even through the hardships.

It’s easy for leaders to lose heart when something as daunting as organizational change doesn’t go as planned. They may start out confident and excited, but the roadblocks of unenthusiastic employees, slow production schedules and unexpected results can be discouraging. According to this article from Forbes, leadership starts with confidence. It’s important for leaders to stay focused and confident throughout the entire process.

Engage your employees.

Making sure everyone is on the same page is undoubtedly important but once everyone shares the same vision, making sure they’re engaged is parallel. Engaging your employees is important to the basic function of your organization and the importance is magnified through organizational change. When leading through change, it’s important to engage your employees at every level early on in the process. Communication is key – ask your employees for their input, allow them to share their ideas and give them a place to voice their concerns. When employees are engaged, they will be more likely to get on board with the changes.

Identify “change fatigue”.

Organizational change fatigue is defined as “the general sense of apathy or passive resignation towards organizational changes by individuals or teams.” Simply put, it’s the exhaustion that employees feel when making too many changes at once.

According to the Strategy& report, about 65% of executives, managers and employees have experienced some sort of change fatigue. It’s important to identify those experiencing it, listen to them, and address the issues directly.

Lead with your company’s culture in mind.

There’s no doubt you’ve come across articles with some variation of the title, “The Best Places To Work.” Sites such as Glassdoor, LinkedIn, and Fortune often take employee surveys and list out the most satisfying companies – and the companies’ cultures are always a dominant feature.

When it comes to changes within your organization, it’s important to make sure that you have your company’s culture in the forefront of your mind. According to this survey from Forbes, more than 50% of respondents said corporate culture influences productivity, creativity, profitability, firm value and growth rates.

Make assessments at every stage.

Once you have a plan in place, it’s easy to have the mentality to keep moving forward without ever looking back. Many organizations that go through major changes fail to measure their success at each stage before moving on, something that they often pay for later. It’s beneficial to take the time to figure out what’s working and what isn’t and then adjust the next steps accordingly.

Identify key players.

Every organization has select employees who are more excitable than others. Identify who these key players are and take the time to walk them through the impending changes and what the company’s expectations are. Forbes suggests key players have control over four critical elements: 1) Vision alignment (those who understand and agree with your company’s vision); 2) Responsibility (they must have a sufficient level of responsibility); 3) Accountability (they must be accountable for reaching their goals), and; 4) Authority.

These employees are then likely to encourage others to accept the changes and help sustain the morale of their teams.

Come up with a realistic plan and have backups.

Just like most everything else, you will need to have a realistic plan in place. If expectations are too high, things can go downhill quickly – from missed deadlines to broken morale. Know your employees’ capabilities and set your plan in place with them in mind.

This article from Chron details the essential steps of management planning, including establishing goals, identifying resources, establishing goal-related tasks, prioritizing, and creating assignments and timelines, among others.

Having a backup plan (or multiples) is also critical to organizational change.

Hold people accountable.

Delegate tasks and hold your employees accountable for them. Make sure they’re equipped with the tools, talent and resources it takes to perform their job and perform it well. If someone isn’t holding up their end of the bargain, it will need to be addressed immediately.