If you have ever experienced big lay off, leadership transition, implementation of new strategy at work, you know what collective fear and resistance towards change feels like. Felling threatened or not seeing clear road ahead will cripple even the smartest, strongest, oldest and bravest team members. By default, and first instinct, we try to avoid uncertainty and chose comfort. When change happens within a group, anxiety spreads more rapidly, which creates a setting for unhealthy behaviors like gossiping, passive aggression, rage, mistrust to occur. You may see it as a perfect reckless storm, but it doesn’t have to be.
One of the main reasons why people don’t change is because they do not feel safe enough to go through the process. Knowing that, task for a good leader becomes not to assure smooth process (which is impossible anyways), but to create secure environment and provide holistic support.
Here are suggestions that will assist during this transition:
- Apply “we’re all in this together” mentality. Feeling like you are a part of something bigger than yourself takes the pressure off to know all the answers, do things perfectly or take on too many responsibilities. Make sure each employee is supported, knows that someone has his/hers back and no one is left alone.
- Prepare for doubts, questions, no’s and hesitations. People process information differently, come to acceptance on individual timelines and deal with their own biases. This process calls for patience, so be mindful about giving space.
- Trust your team and always give benefit of the doubt. You hired them to be experts and now is the time to really listen and respect their competencies. If there’s resistance – check if it is your micromanaging that you cannot deal with or your doubts have reasons. If so, changes should not take place.
- Remain loyal to core reasons why change is necessary and why now is the right time. If you start shifting your messaging, justifying or over-analyzing, it will create more unnecessary confusion. Now clarity is more important than ever, so if you need, repeat main arguments until people get used to it and accept as the new norm. In difficult times, less is more.
- Show cognitive empathy, ask personal questions and follow them up. Building intimate relationships will allow people to understand your way of thinking and build trust. As a result, they will feel more inclined to support your ideas and follow your lead.
- Neutralize failure. You do not have to have ALL the answers but do remind your team that the intention is not just to reach desired outcome. The goal is to develop as a company, team and individuals while doing it.
- Do not charge the atmosphere, when it’s not necessary. Leaders often project their fears and without even knowing, create stressful environment. Be the one who resonates comfort and confidence. More than that, do the best that you can to create fun and relaxed office, even in the middle of difficult shift. For centuries, it has been known by spiritual community and in recent years has been proved by scientists, that we are the most productive, when we are happy. Naturally we become present, come up with creative solutions, finish tasks without effort and work simply flows. Focus on the stream, instead of passively expressing your worries by emailing another “10 ways to increase your productivity” article to your colleagues.
Going through a major event cannot be relived or recreated again. Without a doubt it will create a unique bond and stronger connection between people. Take this opportunity and create something you all can be proud of. You will come to the other side stronger than ever and that is ultimate win.