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How do you get your team to embrace change?

Marlène Villeneuve
How do you get your team to embrace change?

I'm often asked to coach managers or teams on how to cope with change. This is a very topical subject in these times of ever-increasing and increasingly rapid change.

However, I often get the impression that I'm being asked to wave a magic wand that will enable me to shove the changes down the throats of everyone concerned, so that they'll be ready in a flash to take up their new role or their new system with enthusiasm and optimism.

The reality is quite different, and that's what inspired me to offer you 5 realistic tips for getting your people to live better with change.

Tip #1: Listen to people's concerns!

No two people experience change in the same way or with the same intensity of reaction. So it's normal for Roger to be super-enthusiastic about the arrival of the new computer system, for Rita to be completely stressed and for Roselyne to be totally discouraged and demotivated. Three people, three reactions to change. What's the difference between Roger, Rita and Roselyne? The level of concern!

One of the most important human needs is empathy, especially when managing change. If you're managing these 3 employees, it's high time you got out your empathy tank and took the time to listen to their concerns. In fact, this is one of the first things you need to do: give them the opportunity to express their concerns. And to do that, you have to be ready to welcome them with open-minded kindness. This can be done, for example, through group or individual meetings, or even through a survey, why not?

Tip #2: Accept resistance to change - it's part of the change process!

Do some people in your team resist change? That's a good sign: it means they've understood that change concerns them, and they're starting to get worried. Take the time to sit down with them and listen to their concerns (back to tip #1).

In fact, according to Céline Bareil1 , there are 4 reactionary stages to change:

Shock "I can't believe we're changing systems again! It's just another false alarm, and nothing's going to happen...".
Resistance "The old system works very well and I know it like the back of my hand. I just don't feel like using the new one!
Openness "It's true that there are some interesting new features."
Commitment "I wouldn't go back."
Resistance is a normal stage, and it offers a significant advantage: it allows you to highlight people's concerns, and then identify needs in order to put in place solutions that will help them live through the change better.

Tip #3: Find out what they need to make the change happen.

If, and only if, you've taken the time to listen to your team members' concerns (tip #1 bis) and made them feel that you understand them, will they be open to verbalizing their needs.

If not, chances are they'll continue to "spin in their wheels", i.e. ruminate and complain that this change isn't a good idea, etc.

Tip #4: Encourage your employees to become actors of change rather than spectators.

Explain to them that, when faced with a change, they can either watch the show or get up on stage and take part. Give them the opportunity to get up on stage, even if it's just to voice their concerns (yes, that's tip #1 again). The more they feel part of the show, the more they'll want to take part.

Change takes effort. It's only possible if people are willing to change and take action. And to do that, you have to involve them in the change, in every possible way (committee, focus group, survey, meetings, etc.).

Tip #5: Don't put pressure on yourself - let go!

Sorry to disappoint you, but only God can work miracles. There's no recipe for change that will go off without a hitch and get everyone on board without question. Don't put this pressure on yourself.

See change as an opportunity to grow your team, to learn, to bond, to use everyone's talents and, above all, to learn to let go of what you can't control. Give it your best shot, and put your energy into achieving small victories quickly, to positively influence the most motivated players, who will, in turn, drive and motivate the rest.

Isn't there a saying to this effect? "Give me the courage to change the things I can, the serenity to accept the things I can't, and the wisdom to know the difference between the two. I believe this maxim should accompany every change manager.

For a better experience of change:

Change management: adapting, becoming a key player and regaining serenity


Conflict Management: Anticipation and Prevention

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