How to Lead through Change

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You’ve likely heard it said that the only constant in this life is change and it’s true. Change is inevitable, and the best way to deal with it is to keep a positive mindset. There is nothing fundamentally wrong with change. If there were no changes, there would be no advancement.

Behaviorally, we all will handle change differently. For some, change is intimidating because it present a new challenge that will take them out of their comfort zone. For others, they dislike changing a system that they think is already working, and worry about looking bad as they adapt.

Regardless of the reason that change feels uncomfortable, there are ways to approach it that will make the process as seamless as possible. Here are a few:

  1. Set the expectation that change is inevitable.With a mind open to the idea that things will eventually change, it is easier to accept it when they do. Talk about upcoming changes and how they will affect the company.
  2. Understand the “How Will it Affect Me?” principle. It’s natural to worry about how changes will affect you personally. By clearly explaining the day to day differences the uncertainty around change starts to fade.
  3. Never package a negative change as a positive one. Sometimes changes aren’t great, and trying to manipulate the situation to appear positive will only cause distrust and uncertainty among your organization. When announcing change, always be as honest as possible about the reason and expected aftermath of the change.
  4. Embrace the change cycle. This goes hand in hand with expecting change. The bottom line is that change is going to happen! By acknowledging this cycle, it is easier to adapt. An employee who fully understands why a change is happening may be willing to help push that change in the organization, even if they don’t agree with it. Someone who does not have a firm understanding might view themselves as a victim of their circumstance.
  5. Watch out for underminers. When members of an organization have an extremely negative reaction to a change it can throw off the behavior of the entire company. This discord starts with members resisting the change, and complaining about it to whoever will listen. It is extremely important that you are conscious of this possibility and look for it when going through a big change. The best way to address this is to personally meet with those undermining the change and listen to their concerns.

Change isn’t an option but our reaction to it is. An aversion to change can leave us behind our competition and wondering how we got there. By facing it head on and changing before we have to, we can stay ahead of the game. Always be mindful of changes that are coming your way to ensure that you will be prepared.

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