The Forgotten Support Required for Effective Change
Helping your team work through change is challenging and it’s an important part of the role of a leader, but how often do you look at your own transition through difficult or unexpected change? The challenge change poses for you as a leader can be compounded as you lead and support others through the very change that you’re finding difficult. I’ve worked with most of my clients at some point during our coaching on supporting their teams through change and they often forget to explore the impact the change is having on themselves. Some changes are positive and something people have been asking for but unexpectedly get hard after the honeymoon phase. Other changes result from tough business decisions you might need to make. And some others may be the result of change decisions from above that you may not be fully informed about the rationale. Recognizing your own change curve is essential in effectively leading others through change and here are some areas to explore for maximum change leadership success:
The Why Don’t They Get It Gap
You are ahead of your team in the change curve. This can make it frustrating when your team doesn’t seem to ‘get it’. Remember, you were where they were not too long ago, and you’ve already processed and accepted the change. Your team members need to go through their own process and will catch up, yet keep in mind that when they do catch up, you’ll have moved to another stage in the change process.
The Support Gap
While you’re working on coaching your team through change, who is your coach? Who is your sounding board and helping you explore new perspectives and work through how you might need to change alongside the change being brought forward? Take time to talk with peers, your boss, your friends, your mentor or your coach about the change to explore what you’re looking forward to and what you’re finding challenging.
The “I’ve got it all together” Credibility Gap
Keeping your feelings to yourself in emotionally difficult change can reduce your credibility with your team. Don’t be afraid to share with your team how you’re feeling. The catch is to then tell your team how you’re managing those feelings to get behind and support the change. This gives you freedom to express how you feel and to help your team see that you’re human and find change difficult to. It can also help role model for your team how to accept and get behind the change themselves.
The “I’m going to pretend its my change” Gap
If change is coming from above and you’re struggling with it, I find some leaders try to pass of the change as something that was their idea or they were behind to begin with. Be honest with your team without disrespecting your senior leadership team. It’s OK to share that you were shocked by the decision and how you’re now able to get behind it. Trying to pass it off as something that was your idea or you supported from the beginning can make it more confusing for your team. Instead focus on the future ahead and the opportunity you see for you and the team in the unexpected change.
Moving from Blame to Solutions Gap
As a leader, it is your role to listen to your team but it’s not your role to sit in endless blame and denial conversations. Setting boundaries for yourself and your team around blame and denial conversations are essential. Move your team through the change curve by asking permission to explore the elements that are confusing and uncertain. There comes a point to hold your team to deciding to support the change or reject it. Rejecting it is a personal decision and with it comes consequences. Not punishment, just natural consequences. Once they make their decision its time to move them towards problem solving. Your role is to be the supportive facilitator, not the dumping ground for their emotions.
The Mindset Gap
Notice your internal dialogue about the change. Does it have the tone of a fixed mindset or growth mindset? Is your language negative or positive? Every change is an opportunity to learning something new. Is your language focused on learning and solutions or loss and overwhelm?
As a leader, your role isn’t to make people accept change, but rather to work through it yourself and help others work their own process to make decisions about their own change. Effective change leadership begins with addressing your own change experience as a leader. Slowing down your expectations for the pace your team goes through change and reach out for support. Be open to sharing your feelings about the change and how you’re shifting your thinking to get behind it. Finally moving to solutions focused conversations and looking for learning will ensure you are resilient through change. Your resilience will help those around you find their own resilience and a path forward through their own change.