Keeping The Team From Sinking When Change Is The Norm
All organizations go through change. There is no way to avoid it. And, in some companies, change is the norm and it may even feel like it’s rapid cycle change with hardly any time in between to stop and absorb the change before another wave hits. How can a manager keep the people and the team from running amok and not sinking? Read any article on the topic of change and you’ll find what they tell you to do is communicate, communicate, and communicate some more. I don’t disagree with this conceptually, and would tell you the same thing. And, this isn’t enough.
If communicating frequently and regularly won’t keep the team from sinking what will? To begin with, managers throughout the organization need to focus on their leadership skills. This is not the time to rest on your laurels or think that time will take care of the problem. Each leader within the company has to pull himself or herself up as quickly as they can to become the best leader they can be.
Communication is a part of this, and, remember, it’s not just what you say but how you say it that has a bearing on how the message is received. Thinking that sharing the information is communicating is ludicrous. Communication isn’t about spewing information. It requires you, the sender of the message, to recognize how your message is being received and adjust accordingly.
Building your leadership skills also includes a higher attention to the soft skills of leadership more than ever. Your antenna have to be on high alert for signs that individuals or the team are struggling. Don’t wait for them to come to you with their concerns or problems. You have to be proactive in reaching out to them. What are the signs that you might see that indicate they are heading off course, or worse? Increased tardiness or time off, reduced productivity, increased complaining about others, deadlines missed, increased excuse making, more mistakes…you get the picture. If these weren’t problems before all the change happened, it’s time to proactively address what you are seeing and right the ship. And, don’t assume one conversation will make it all better. It might, but it’s not likely.
If you are uncomfortable with change or the frequency of the change, your discomfort will be felt by others, and they will react to it much the same way a dog reacts to someone when they sense the person’s fear. I’m not suggesting change is easy or not uncomfortable. What I am suggesting is that as the manager you must learn to manage your discomfort so you are able to quell the anxiety of others.
Stop using expressions such “we always”, “in the past”, “we’ve tried this before and it hasn’t worked”, or “this is the new flavor of the month change” or anything that connotes negativity, resistance, or resignation. Whatever we believe becomes our truth because we will seek out the evidence to support our beliefs. Those thoughts you feed your brain will become your reality. Even if you are being the cheerleader and expressing excitement to others, your actions will express your true feelings. Beside the fact that your team will recognize it, it’s disingenuous. Stop it!
Teach others how to navigate through the unknown and become comfortable with their own discomfort. I don’t tell people to not be uncomfortable or uneasy, that would be silly on my part. What I want people to learn is how to relax into their own uneasiness and discomfort. What gets in our way is thinking we can fix being distressed or uncomfortable and managing through it is what matters. That’s why I say as a leader if you want to keep your team on course you must team them how to be comfortable with being uncomfortable.
Reality is when change happens it’s upsetting to people, even if the change is positive. Everyone reacts differently and as a leader you must remember this, and take the time to recognize when someone on the team is struggling. When change happens frequently this is even more important. People at work talk to each other and share their concerns. Pretty soon you’ll find the team running off course and maybe even sinking. Don’t sit around and wait for this to happen.
© 2017 Incedo Group, LLC.
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