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Best Practices for Leading Teams through Change

Every business, brand, and organization will experience changes as it grows. Those in leadership play pivotal roles in the success or failure of a company undergoing both planned and unplanned transitions.

This article explores best practices for leading teams through change. In it, we’ll walk through simple, proactive steps you can take today to set up your teams for success.

Tips For Leading Team Through Change

Understand the Change

Before leading your team through change, you must thoroughly understand the change, what it will require of your team, and how it will affect your team and the individuals within it.

Change of any kind can intimidate –– and even discourage –– employees or team members. As a leader, you must understand why the change must occur. If it’s planned, be prepared to answer how it will benefit the brand or business you work under.

Once you thoroughly understand why the change must take place, you need to know how the change will affect your team:

  • For example, how will team objectives change?
  • Will team members be required to take on more or different responsibilities?
  • Does your team need additional training or support to adapt to the change?

Team members will bring their questions and concerns to you. First, however, you must understand the change inside and out to clarify goals and reassure your teams as you lead them forward.

Communicate with Teams Early and Often

Every leadership position requires clear, proactive communication. This is especially true when a business or team transitions or must adapt to a change.

When your business implements change, your teams will have questions and need support as they learn how to adapt and potentially alter their workflows and processes. Create open avenues for communication and encourage individuals to ask questions.

You’ll want to proactively communicate with your teams to answer questions before they arise. And many questions will come only through trial and error as you implement the change. When questions crop up, your teams should feel comfortable coming to you.

Determine how you’ll field questions and practice effective communication before the change occurs, and ensure all team members understand the appropriate communication channels.

Foster Ownership and Commitment to the Changes

Implementing significant changes in a brand or business requires buy-in from everyone within your organization. But when change happens, you might notice hesitation from various parties or departments.

Foster ownership of the change within your team and cultivate a commitment to the plan across your organization. Help your team own and adapt to the changes.

Give them as much autonomy and voice as possible. When your team feels in control, they’ll have a better perspective and a more positive outlook and will adopt the change more readily.

Create a Supportive Environment

As mentioned before, change is intimidating. And depending on the intensity of the change, your employees might feel stressed, anxious, or even uncertain about their position within your company.

As you navigate new territories with your team, create a supportive environment. They must know that leadership is ready to listen, empathize, and care. In addition, you should be prepared to provide resources relevant to the change so your team can work to the best of their ability while feeling supported by your organization’s leadership.

Highlight the Benefits of the Change

While change is difficult –– and human nature dictates that we’re hesitant to embrace change –– many changes can benefit your brand or organization and the individuals working within it. Highlight the benefits of the change early and often to cultivate a positive, realistic perspective on the situation.

When all parties understand change’s positive aspects, they’ll maintain their momentum and work together toward your goals.

Lead by Example

Change brings uncertainty, apprehension, and even new responsibilities for your staff. Your teams need someone to look to as they navigate changes or transitions. As you consider how best to guide your teams, remember that you’re leading even when you don’t realize it.

Your attitude, work ethic, positive outlook, and how you speak about the changes will shape how those under you respond. They look to you to set the standards for workplace culture. Lead by example, and others will follow.

Celebrate Milestones

Positive reinforcement and recognition of a well-done job are crucial for retaining and motivating your staff regardless of your industry or organization. Remember to reward and recognize the little victories.

Celebrate your team as they achieve goals or milestones amid change. Even small gestures of recognition can reinforce positive attitudes and work ethics as your teams adapt to their new normal.

Happy team members work more efficiently and are more likely to stay with your organization long-term. Celebrate at every chance to highlight the value your team brings to the table.

Learn, Adapt, and Move Forward

As you implement change in your brand or business, set a timetable to review specific metrics you hope to improve with the changes you put in place. As a business or team lead, you never want to set change in motion without a clear goal.

When appropriate, revisit the goals you’ve set for your business or organization before implementing the change. How are you progressing? How has your team handled the transition? Asking these questions and evaluating the data helps you move forward toward success.

While many changes are intentionally implemented, your organization might undergo unforeseen changes that upend your team’s processes, expectations, and day-to-day workflows.

When unexpected changes come your way, your team will need someone to lead them through the ups and downs. And though some changes are unplanned, they can still present opportunities to rethink your workflows and approach tasks with a fresh perspective.

Make Changes Work for You and Your Team

Change is inevitable. As a leader, you can drive your teams to embrace, adapt, and thrive within change. Approach change not as an obstacle but as an opportunity to win in your market.