It’s common place for organisations to go through periods of change.
Mergers, acquisitions and rapid periods of organisational growth are just a few of the many reasons for companies needing to implement change strategies.
Change management and change leadership are terms that have existed and been readily used for decades. However within organisations, change management and its corresponding approach was often favoured and used as the single solution to drive business change.
Change Management is the term used to refer to the complex process of integrating new policies, procedures and business units within an organisation.
By its very nature and design, it’s typically been executed in a very systematic and methodical way, on account of the very process driven foundation on which it is based.
As a result, changes are communicated through the business in the same systematic and process driven way that they’re created and often without thought for the opinions and concerns of the teams within the business that are directly affected.
Up until the global pandemic change management seemed to be an efficient way of managing change and leading teams to a new way of working.
There were of course casualties, such as video marketing software company Wistia “who concentrated on aggressive business growth, but its tunnel vision led leaders away from the company values on which the business had been built and ultimately led to employee burnout. Previously happy employees questioned the shift in company focus. What was once a fun and imaginative company, became stressful and the employees began to leave.” **
Since the days of lockdown & the implementation of remote; and then hybrid working, businesses have been going through intense and rapid periods of change and alongside this, the people working within the organisation have also gone through their own growth and evolution.
As a result, simple change management strategies are no longer effective enough to take businesses into a new future and change leadership is now needed to ensure business continuity and stability.
So what is change leadership?
Change leadership considers the people within the organisation. It takes into account the impact of changes within the organisation and seeks to understand people’s thoughts and concerns.
It’s the role of the leader to create the compelling vision for the people and communicate that succinctly and with consideration for the impact on every team member.
Change leadership attempts to hold people and support them through the process of change, by identifying and seeking to resolve any concerns, worries or challenges.
Unlike change management which is about operational procedures to reduce business disruption, change leadership is about your people.
Making sure that they are held and heard through the process of change.
How to lead your people through change
To lead change effectively, organisations should be looking to embrace change leadership alongside change management.
Of course businesses will always need processes and operational strategies to ensure business continuity, but they also need the buy-in and support of the people who are the foundation of the business.
With this in mind, here are our top 3 tips for effectively and sensitively leading your teams through change:
Whilst change strategies are typically developed from the top down, collaboration across the business is essential for effective change leadership.
Leaders should look to collaborate with and include their teams in the development of change plans as early as possible, to ensure their needs and ideas are heard, and to demonstrate that their input is valued.
This approach helps align the team’s expectations, offers sense of ownership and inclusion & ultimately ensures their buy-in. It allows all parties to understand the need for change and the strategies that are necessary for achieving it.
To successfully lead people through change, collaboration is essential to provide a solid foundation that everyone can align to and ensure both commitment and a positive mindset for the journey of implementation.
Communicating effectively is essential for leading teams and being transparent about changes that are happening within the organisation.
It helps to reduce the uncertainty and ambiguity that can often create resistance during the change process.
Effective communication allows for teams to share their concerns without fear, they can ask questions they need clarity on and; most importantly, it prevents misinformation. By providing clear, transparent and timely communication, leaders can facilitate a smoother transition.
Successful change leadership requires confident and honest communication to promote dialogue and build a sense of trust within the team.
3. Create a pathway
Having a clear pathway towards your vision is always critical, but even more-so when attempting to lead your people through change.
A clear pathway identifies milestones, provides clarity around what is happening, what is expected and how the change process will proceed. The roadmap creates a sense of security within the team, which fosters trust and confidence.
The development of milestones for each stage can help the team see the process of change, along with what they’ve accomplished and the progress that’s been made. It gives them a clear understanding of what still needs to be done and can support with motivation and morale as the business moves through the change process.
Clearly defined pathways are also an opportunity to improve the team’s performance and prepare them for changes that may occur in the future.
When carried out effectively, this is an essential step in the change leadership process, as it holds and supports people, while producing positive outcomes for the organisation.
Have you encountered situations where change management fell short in your organisation?
Need some support with your change leadership? We can help!
Schedule a call with one of our consultants to discuss ways that we can support you through the change process. Book your call here