There’s only so much you can do to prepare for change, observes Geil Browning, writing for Inc.com. She insists the real leadership test is helping your team deal with the change when it comes.
The author comments: “Every person has unique thinking and behavioural preferences, and as a result, everyone will react to change differently. But a leader leads everyone – not just those who are on the same page as she is.”
According to Browning, there are certain things leaders can say to connect with their people during turbulent times. She provides eight examples:
1) Say a person’s name. The sound of someone’s first name appeals to their social senses, according to Browning. She believes that a leader using someone’s first name implies familiarity, trust and respect.
Browning explains: “The difference may seem subtle, but ‘Nice job’ and ‘Nice job, Mark’ just aren’t the same thing.”
2) Say nothing at all. A leader doesn’t have to do all the talking. There are people in your organisation who will welcome the opportunity to express themselves, and it’s important that you listen to their thoughts and ideas. Others will be more reluctant to share but you need to encourage them to communicate.
3) Say why. People need to know the reason for change, regardless of their character. If someone understands the rationale behind a project, it helps them assess their role and make their own judgements.
4) Say exactly what you mean, and mean what you say. Integrity, clarity and following through are essential during times of change.
Don’t mince your words, sugarcoat bad news, make unrealistic promises or leave room for misinterpretation. Define goals and expectations clearly.
5) Say you need help. It’s OK to show your vulnerability as a leader. In fact, it can be an effective tool; employees will see you as being approachable and confident in their ability to contribute. Ask for their ideas and assistance.
6) Say how. Once you’ve identified the need for change, you should explain exactly how it will be achieved. Draw up a clear road map.
7) Say it’s going to be OK. You need to be the voice of calm and show you are confident in your team’s ability to deal with the changes taking place.
8) Say it depends. Browning comments: “Change Management 101 says a third of the work force will be gung-ho about change, a third will be firmly against it, and the final third will be somewhere on the fence.
“Within each third will be a wide range of thinking preferences and reasons for their stances on change. One separate message per employee? Not necessary. But any given situation may require different strategies for communication.”