One of the most important parts of leadership is being present for your team, and creating space where they feel welcomed, safe and free to share what’s on their mind. A space where they are seen and heard, a space where they can grow. Creating this kind of space creates space for change. Supporting your team through change is a critical part of every leader’s role in 2021. It may not have been when you first stepped into leadership but it is now.
Change is part of our every day. It’s how we grow, it’s how we learn and it’s how we achieve the big goals we have for ourselves and our teams. For decades, change has been presented as something that is linear. Something that has a beginning, middle and end. Something you could start today, execute tomorrow and see the outcome of next quarter or next year. The truth is that change has been anything but linear for years. Change comes in all shapes and sizes. So do the emotions and reactions to change. We live and work in complex environments where the advances in technology and the realization of what’s possible happens almost over night. As a leader, what you know to be true the day you start to introduce a change is likely to evolve several times before you are halfway through your initiative.
While leaders often have the ability to anticipate change, creating an environment where their employees can build resiliency and are prepared to adopt change is a game changer. I know you have heard this before, change is uncomfortable and it is. Change is also very personal and because it’s personal and almost always requires us to change the way we think, act or do the things we have always done, change generates a whole host of emotions.
Creating space where your team feels like their emotions are welcome requires connection and a sense of safety. We are human beings not human doings, we need to feel as though we can feel what we are feeling without judgement and be who we are, wholeheartedly. As a leader, many of us have been taught that there is no place for emotions at work. As if that is even possible, emotions are part of who we are. It can be scary to open yourself up to your team, I encourage you to try it. Building a connection with those you lead is foundational to creating space for change, innovation and growth.
While you are practicing building connections consider:
Being intentional about how you introduce change to your team:
- Prioritize planning time. Think about what you want to share with your team and what your team will want to know. The Change Story Worksheet can help here.
- Schedule time with the team, if everyone isn’t available book separate time with those that can’t join. It’s important that everyone hears your vision and has a chance to be heard.
- Reinforce with your team why the change is important and what they can expect as a result of the change, both benefits and impacts.
- Give each person time to absorb the change. They may not have questions immediately but they will eventually
Create dedicated space for your team to talk about what’s changing:
- Facilitate regular conversations with the team and one-on-one
- Let the team know that all questions are welcome and share with them what’s on your mind
- Your team will want to hear from you and also want an opportunity to ask their questions
- Even if you don’t have all the answers keep the conversation going. Make a commitment to your team to get back to them with an answer. It is ok to say “ I don’t know” as the leader you do not have to have all the answers.
Let your employees know how they will be supported through the change:
- As your team is absorbing the change they will have a lot of questions about how the change will personally impact them
- Recognize their concerns, let them know you hear them and share with them how you and the organization will be supporting them through the change.
- Know that it may take time for your employees to share their concerns. Get curious with each team member to help bring their thoughts to the surface.
When you are leading change, focus as much on how you introduce the change as what the change is. How you introduce change, regardless of the size of the change is what contributes to building resiliency.
If you need a coach or thought partner to develop your personal approach to leading change, know that I am here. Feel free to reach out at any time.
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