Change is everywhere. It can hurt us or make us stronger. It can divide us or bring us together. We believe one key thing can make the difference: how leaders prepare for, communicate during, and persist through change.
Here are a few basic ways to lead effectively through change.
- Begin with the end in mind.
Start by understanding where you want to end up. The more clearly you understand this, the more effectively you can share this with everyone affected by change. Don’t just focus on the “what.” Focus on why it matters, how it will feel to get there, and what’s in it for everybody.
- Get people’s input early and often.
Leaders normally think about changing when either something’s become too painful to stay the same, or when there’s a future possibility so compelling that we need to start moving toward it. Then, by the time they communicate that the change is happening, they forget that nobody else has gone through the mental journey they’ve already gone through. Everyone else is still at the starting line.
Don’t neglect giving people a chance to own the vision. Ask them what they wish were different. Ask them what “success” could look like. Then you can come back and say: We heard you, and we’re moving toward where you told us you wanted to go. That creates powerful momentum.
- Communicate consistently, more than you think you need to.
In the absence of information, people fill in the gaps. Give as much clarity as you can—even if that means saying, “Here’s what we don’t know.” Don’t underestimate how often you need to repeat yourself in different formats to truly be heard. Plan to speak in person (1:1 and in groups), to send multiple emails, and send pre-recorded videos.
- Be clear on why it matters.
What do you stand to gain and lose? What’s in it for everyone? What’s at stake, and why can’t you stay the same?
- Don’t let change drag on.
Human beings aren’t designed to live in elevated levels of stress and challenge. We need rhythms of rest. Too much change too quickly can result in burnout, disillusionment, and unintentionally broken promises.
The bottom line is this: whether your company is running a sprint or a marathon, be clear with your people. Answer these questions for them & you’ll be well ahead of the game:
- What’s changing?
- Why is it changing?
- What’s the timeline?
- What’s in it for them if we succeed?
- What’s at stake for all of us if we can’t?
- How will we know that we’re making progress?
- Where can I go if I still have questions (and can I trust they’ll be handled with respect)?
Effective leadership during times of change requires clear vision, constant communication and a focus on collective well-being. In doing so, leaders cultivate trust, maintain morale and guide their teams towards shared goals with confidence.
Contact a member of our team today to learn how to prepare for change.