Mastering Change: 7 Proven Tips to Smooth the Transition!

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30 Aug, 2023

Change is inevitable and constant in both business and life. As a manager, one of the core skills you need to master is how to help your team navigate through change successfully.

Notice that I didn’t say manage change. Change is complex, unpredictable, and often emotional. It can trigger resistance, fear and anxiety in people who are affected by it.

The best you can hope for is a smooth transition from the old to the new. So how do you as a manager facilitate this process for your team?

7 Effective Change Management Tips

  1. Identify who will be impacted by the change and how it will affect them individually and collectively. Different people may have different reactions and needs depending on their personality, role, expectations, and level of involvement in the change. Try to understand their perspectives and concerns, and address them accordingly.
  2. Communicate as much information as possible to your team about the change. People tend to fill in information gaps with rumours and speculation when they don’t have enough information. The best way to prevent misinformation and confusion is to provide clear, consistent, frequent, and reliable communication. Explain the reasons, benefits, and challenges of the change, as well as the steps and timeline for implementation. Answer any questions they may have, and acknowledge any feedback they may give. Over-communicate rather than under-communicate (and when you think you are over-communicating – communicate some more).
  3. Help people let go of the past and embrace the future. People often have an emotional attachment to the way things were, and may feel a sense of loss or grief when they have to change. You can help them by:
  • Explaining the process of transition and how it affects people’s behaviour and emotions. Giving people tools to understand their own and others’ responses can help them cope better and move forward.
  • Being firm but flexible. While you need to be clear about the direction and expectations of the change, you can also be flexible about some details or adjustments that may make the transition easier for your team.
  • Encouraging staff discussions of change and their reactions to it. Create a safe space for your team to share their thoughts and feelings, listen to each other, and support each other.
  • Working to re-establish control, understanding, support and purpose for your team. People need some sense of control over their situation, so help them create areas of control or influence. They also need to understand the change and their role in it, so provide them with relevant information and training. They need to feel supported by you and their peers, so offer them guidance, feedback, and recognition. They need to have a sense of personal purpose or meaning, so help them align their goals with the vision of the change.
  • Praising positive behaviour and giving constructive negative feedback if needed. Reinforce any actions or attitudes that demonstrate acceptance or adaptation to the change, and correct any behaviours that hinder or resist the change.
  • Generating involvement in the solution by engaging your team in the problem-solving process. Involve your team in planning, decision-making or implementation of the change as much as possible. This will increase their ownership, commitment, and motivation for the change.
  • Focus on quick successes and small wins. Quick successes help to build momentum towards the total change goal.
  • Manage your own emotional state. Stay calm and professional in all interactions with your team. People look to you for cues on how to respond.
  1. Allow symbolic endings (e.g.: farewell parties). Let your team celebrate or commemorate their past experiences and achievements, and don’t criticise them for dwelling on the past. Talking it through helps them to process it and move on.
  2. Facilitate the beginning of the new. Clearly articulate the new behaviour and attitudes that are required for the change to work – don’t be vague or general, be specific. Give examples or demonstrations of what you expect from your team. Provide them with feedback and coaching on how they are doing. What people need to know is: What’s the required attitude? What’s the behaviour?  Tell me how I am supposed to handle this?
  3. Reduce, to the extent you can, the number of changes that you are dealing with at one time. This is not the time to introduce a lot of other changes that are not related or necessary for the main change. This will only increase the stress and confusion for your team.
  4. Manage your own change transition. Don’t forget that you are also going through a change, and you may also experience some losses or challenges. Seek information about how the change will affect you personally and professionally, and accept that you may also go through a period of mourning or adjustment. Take time alone to think and imagine how things will be different. And the biggest tip, vent only with your family or other managers in private (and even then, expect at least one other manager to let slip in confidence what you said).

Change is a part of life. How you manage its impact on your team is up to you.

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AEM01@EM

HR Author and Lecturer with over 25 years' experience in human resources and workplace relations in Australia. Lead Author of Instant HR Policies & Procedures, NDIS Direct Employment HR Manual, and Employee Performance Reviews: Tips, Templates and Tactics.

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