7 Tips for Leading Through Change
Change is a natural part of creating and developing better organizations, economies and even society as a whole, and leaders are often asked to guide a team or organization in a positive direction during change. By effectively leading change, leaders can help organizations enhance efficiency, increase profit and improve organizational culture. To help with this process, here are a number of tips and strategies that can assist leaders in facilitating change.
1. Be purpose driven
Before a leader embarks on bringing change to an organization, it’s important to come up with a plan to remain purpose driven through the transitional process. For example, during change, an effective leader needs to set goals on what the organization should achieve. With these in mind, a leader should be able to clearly identify the purpose for change, then articulate the short- and long-term benefits so that team members have a solid understanding of why the change is taking place. This common understanding of purpose is essential for building team support and motivating peers to continue working through the challenges that come with change. Further, with a clear purpose, leaders can increase buy-in and convince organization members that the changes they are proposing are worth giving a try.
2. Focus on communication
Communication is an important tool that, if effectively leveraged by leaders, can have a profound impact on an organization. This is especially true during times of transition, as open communication with leadership can help remind employees that they’re important to the team. Additionally, it’s also important to remember that during a period of transition, it’s often easy for miscommunications to occur as there may be changes to the protocol or new strategies that take team members time to adjust to. Therefore, throughout the change process, it’s essential that leaders focus on effective communication to ensure that a transitional period is as efficient and productive as possible. One strategy that can be utilized is the use of communication forums that provide employees with the opportunity to address questions or concerns that they may have. Leaders should also strive to keep employees informed throughout the change process on organizational developments to ensure that individuals feel respected and appreciated.
3. Invest in your staff
Organizational change can only be effectively carried out once a leader identifies the assets that are absolutely required of the company. With regards to staffing, leaders should invest in their staff, remaining patient and positive during times of change. It’s also important for leaders and managers to provide their employees with training opportunities to encourage professional growth and development. Opportunities may include:
- Seminars or videos
- Purchasing books, films or similar content to help development
- Attending conferences
- Personal training on new software or technologies
- Scholarships for continuing education
Like those that have gone through a major transition know, there may be times that team members sense instability, so a leader that overextends their support and invest in their staff can ignite confidence within their organization.
4. Remain calm and confident
During times of change, there may be stressful or surprising situations that arise, and these occurrences are when staff and peers need calm, confident leadership the most. To help with this, it is important that leaders remain poised and assuring about the change, especially when speaking with nervous or overly-anxious employees. Leaders that have been in transitional situations know that remaining calm and confident is not always easy, so here are a few strategies that can help:
- Remember to take deep breaths
- Keep organized
- Envision what a successful transition feels like
- Fully know the details of the transitional process
- Remain mindful
5. Prioritizing tasks for efficiency
During times of change, its essential that leaders create forward progress by prioritizing tasks for increased efficiency. With prioritized tasks and a focus on efficiency comes optimal momentum as individuals, teams and organizations are not held back by common hindrances such as uncertainty, an overwhelming number of duties and sluggish performance. To help prioritize tasks to achieve efficiency and motivate their team and peers, leaders must analyze and openly communicate the transitional situation according to these four questions:
- What is required?
- What gives the greatest returns?
- What will help maintain momentum
- What brings the greatest reward to the organization?
6. Maintain the strength of the current culture
In order to help keep organizations focused during times of change, leaders should seek to maintain the strength of the current organizational culture. This helps to assure employees that although change is occurring on some level, the organization is not swaying from the cultural foundation that helped build and develop the team. Some strategies that can be leveraged to help maintain the strength of the current organizational culture include:
- Open communication
- Building initiatives off current core values
- Rewarding those that exemplify the current culture
- Planning a team outing or event
- Encouraging teams to work collaboratively on transitional initiatives
7. Find and encourage staff to become leaders
Finding and encouraging potential new leaders within your team is an essential aspect of being an effective leader during a transitional process. Leaders should constantly be assisting and encouraging those around them, as well as encouraging staff to step up and take on new roles or responsibilities. As staff progress on their leadership journey, leaders should remain supportive as they assist and motivate these new leaders to advance their professional career.
Change is an essential aspect of organizational growth and development, and leaders play an important part in ensuring transitional success. Whether its prioritizing communication, remaining confident or maintaining the strength of the current culture, leaders should look to leverage these mentioned tips to help manage and work through transitional processes to lead their organization in a positive direction.
As the nation’s oldest private military college, Norwich University has been a leader in innovative education since 1819. Through its online programs, Norwich delivers relevant and applicable curricula that allow its students to make a positive impact on their places of work and their communities.
Norwich University’s online Master of Science in Leadership program is designed to help you demonstrate the skills and knowledge needed to lead teams and inspire progress, while also growing your career. The program is practical and pertinent, allowing students to apply leadership concepts immediately to their careers.
4 Things Successful Change Leaders Do Well, Harvard Business Review