We hear everywhere that there is only one constant: change. If that is true, why do so many people find it so very difficult? One would think that if it is so common we would all be change agent experts… chameleons if you will; but such is not the case. The majority of humans tend toward things that are routine in nature. From cradle to cubicle we look for routine. In school it was the sound of the bell ushering us from one class to another. At work it’s the sound of our meeting reminders ushering us from one meeting to the next. It is easy to move throughout our day without giving much thought to where it’s going or what exactly we’re doing until change comes along. Like a slap in the face it can hit hard. Whether it’s a new software system at work or deciding to no longer smoke, the behavioral changes that need to happen can seem staggering.

As a leader you can make a significant impact on your team’s ability to accept or decline change. If your organization needs to make changes, no matter what those changes are, here are five ways you can support your team in accepting & adapting to the change:

1. Support the organization’s direction
During times of change your team will keep a watchful eye on your words and actions. They will be looking to see if you are supporting the change taking place. Don’t expect your team to accept the change if you are showing signs of doubt or concern.

2. Communicate as much as you know as often as possible
An area for improvement I find when coaching leaders during change efforts is the amount of time spent communicating to the team. You cannot over communicate during a time of change. Once you communicate a message, plan on communicate at least two more times. You can be fairly certain that the whole message was not received the first time through. The old adage I say to leaders is, “communicate, communicate, communicate, and just when you think they’ve got it, communicate it again!”

3. Ask the team for their input and listen to their concerns
Support the change process by getting input from your team. Solicit feedback, ask for input, and listen to concerns. Teams are typically filled with questions during times of change. If you stay open and approachable they may “let you in” on what they are thinking and ask questions to gain clarity. If you appear to be stressed or too busy you may never realize how many questions they have or the kind of valuable input they are refraining from sharing with you.

4. Celebrate the small successes
During a change process it’s important to set milestones and celebrate the accomplishments along the way. What one person sees as “a piece of cake” someone else may see as insurmountable. Either way, do not let accomplishments pass by unnoticed. Recognize the team for the progress and change that has already transpired each step of the way. There are two common misperceptions in this area: first, leaders think they have to wait until there is a “large enough” accomplishment to warrant a celebration. Second, leaders think that “celebration” automatically means they must spend money. Each accomplishment, no matter how big or small, is worth recognizing. If you wait to recognize a small success until 3 or 4 more happen you could delay the celebration until it holds no meaning. In order to “celebrate” the small successes you may have to redefine the word “celebrate”. To celebrate something is to honor, to hold up or play up for public notice, or to observe a notable occasion with festivities (ref. Merriam-webster on-line). A small success can be honored or played up in a team meeting with no additional dollars needed.

5. Coach people through the change process
Times of change provide ample opportunity to flex your coaching skill muscles. The key is to connect with your employees and fully support them in reaching their goals. Part of the support may be in helping them see how they can overcome obstacles. Support can take many shapes and sizes. It may be listening or questioning. It may be recommending something or strategizing together. It may be motivating or challenging them. Coaching, a process of learning and growth, fits appropriately with times of change which are usually full of chances to learn and grow.

These are just 5 examples of how you can work to support your team through change in your organization. The next time there is change taking place, make it an opportunity to practice being a great change agent. Help your team navigate through the change in a positive way.

Author's Bio: 

Written by Jennifer Mounce, President, Coach Effect. Coach Effect is a coaching, consulting and development firm focused on leadership and organizational effectiveness. For more information, please contact us at 773.5850.8360.