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Navigating Workplace Change Together

change strategy & vision Oct 30, 2023
Navigating Workplace Change Together

Seeing these beautful leaves while I've been out on my motorcycle got me thinking about change. I love the Fall leaves and the changes that come along with them - apple cider, Halloween, Thanksgiving. On the other hand, my husband isn't a big fan of these changes, as he knows that he'll be swapping his bike for a snowblower in just a few weeks.

Change is one of those things that can stir up a whole bunch of reactions. Some folks dive in headfirst, ready to embrace what's to come, while others need a bit more time to warm up to the idea.

In the workplace, our approach to change often focuses on strategies, systems, and structures. We're often in such a rush to drive our desired end result that we overlook the deeply personal experience of how organizational change impacts people. 

Fortunately, organizations have a powerful change management resource at their fingertips - their managers.

Managers are in a powerful position to:

  • Use their 1:1 interactions to get to know their colleagues on a more personal level, uncovering their unique priorities and motivators that inspire them to embrace change. They also can hone in on their team members' frustrations to manage the stressors associated with change.
  • Unlock team performance by harnassing team strengths during the change process. They can drive team conversations and activate clear steps for the future.
  • Navigate the "messy middle" by being translators between senior leadership directives and the tactics of implementation teams. 

To be effective change navigators, managers must recognize and address the psychological needs of each person on their team. 

  • The need for Control & Agency: These team members are motivated by freedom and authority. They desire more than just a voice in the conversation. They expect to have their ideas integrated into the solution. Give them a chance to lead parts of the change initiative or to autonomously implement the change in their areas of responsibility.
  • The need for Connection:  These team members are expressive and may reveal their stress in a more emotional way. They have a strong desire to be included, so invite, involve, and immerse them along the way. Provide the reassurance that comes along with team collaboration throughout the change process.
  • The need for Information and Understanding: These team members have high expectations for the outcomes of the change initiative, as well as the change process. Share information about the change, establish clear expectations, and use good change management plans and systems. Help them see the logic in the decision making and the justification for the changes to come.
  • The need for Stability and Safety: These team members like things to be predictable and certain. They will best respond to change once they are confident and comfortable that things will work out for all involved. Avoid pressuring them to make fast decisions and give them the space and time to adjust to new methods.

Identifying team members' psychological needs is easier than you think.  Begin by asking questions like:

  • How do you feel about this change?
  • What would you like to know about this change?
  • What ideas do you have for ensuring the success of this change?
  • How would you like to be involved in the change?
  • What would make you feel comfortable with the change?

You can also use Everything DiSC to understand team members' priorities, motivators, stressors and needs during change. DiSC gives your managers personalized tips for navigating workplace change with each member of their team.

Click here to watch this 10 minute video from Dr. Mark Scullard, Wiley's Senior Director of Product Innovation. He'll share The Change Curve we all follow, especially during unwelcome change. Then, he'll share specific ideas for reorienting people toward acceptance, problem solving, and integation to create a new normal.  

Need more ideas for navigating workplace change, email me at [email protected]. Maybe we can get a motorcycle ride in before the snow flies!