Change is essential to growth. The greater the growth, the greater the change required. One of the most important roles of a leader is to lead followers through seasons of change. I first approached this topic in a blog post describing steps to embrace change (read here). Embracing change on an individual level is truthfully a lifelong practice, but if you are tasked with leading a team the process often accelerates. Your goal as a leader is to find that graceful pace through new changes, and avoid stagnation at all costs. It will threaten even the best teams. Consider this example–
Kristin led a large function within a rapidly growing organization. As a pioneer in the organization and an early leader of her function, she had built the structure, systems and processes to support the body of work. However, after over twenty years of leadership, Kristin had transformed the function and had selected, grown and developed a team who was ready for more responsibility. For Kristin’s own growth it was time for a change and she began to think about options that would provide the opportunity for her and others to grow.
For Kristin, the most difficult part of change was not deciding what she would do next, but in helping her team to discover what they could do in the next season with healthy change management.
Maybe you have been in a similar place and wonder how you can help lead and manage change with your team. Here are some suggestions:
1. Be Clear.
Explaining change with clarity is paramount for successful change management. Be sure all the decisions related to the change have been made and that there is a consistent and clear message to communicate the change.
2. Counsel individuals one-on-one about change that impacts their work.
Consider not only the work impact, but also the social impact to the change. It is respectful to be sure no one is surprised about what impacts them most, especially in front of other people.
3. Make no assumptions at individual response to change.
Everyone responds differently. Give each person time and space to process their thoughts, feelings and ideas. The greater the change, the more time that is needed. Some need to process alone and others will need to talk through what they have heard. Give space and be available.
4. Cast a vision for the next season of opportunity.
Growth requires change and change fuels growth. As long as that cycle continues, there is limitless opportunity for the business and individuals. Be prepared to help others see a vision of where the change is taking the organization and what their opportunities are in the new season.
5. Constantly adjust development plans to prepare others for change and new opportunities.
Don’t wait for change to be needed to prepare others for the change. Continuously prepare for growth and change by honing skills of all the talent available to you.
6. Display courage to move on at the right time.
While displaying patience for others to process change is vital to change management, it is also important to make the call when it is time for everyone to move on. Allow for feelings of loss, grief, anxiety, challenge and excitement to run their course, but when it’s time to move on, it’s time. Lead the way for your team.
7. Make your decisions right.
A mentor of mine used to say, “you won’t always make the right decisions, so make your decisions right.” When making change related decisions, sometimes the leader gets it wrong. If you make a mistake, correct it. Don’t get stuck in the wrong decision. Do what you need to do to make it right.
8. Prepare for the next change.
If your organization keeps growing, it must change at the rate of growth. The more you grow, the faster the pace of change. Prepare for it and get your team prepared to meet the ever changing demands of growth. You will stay ahead of the curve and your organization will win.
Socrates said, “The secret of change is to focus all of your energy not on fighting the old, but on building the new.” As leaders, it is our role to move our teams in the healthiest way possible from the old to the new. In that process, we much preserve the core of the culture and usher people carefully and intentionally into a new vision of the best future. Successful organizations develop and strengthen the muscle of this skill to grow their teams and create lasting impact.