Jun 06 2018
Change: leading teams through transition

By Dr Michael Cassop Thompson

Organisational life is characterised by change, and it is generally accepted that if an organisation is to prosper then change is inevitable. Change may be continuous and incremental, or more revolutionary (and of course, all shades in between). Primarily, the reason for change is to gain organisational benefits which help sustain and develop the organisation in being capable of meeting its current and future aims and objectives.

Whilst change is commonly viewed as essential, it can often become a disorientating process for all levels of staff within the organisation. If well managed, leaders can expect some great benefits, including: increased employee motivation, application of creative solutions to challenges encountered, more effective team working, improved efficiency, more effective outcomes and increased profitability.

Two key overarching issues

In order to ensure change is successfully embedded within organisational practices, the development of effective leaders and managers of change is essential. There are two overarching notions which help when viewing change:

The physical nature of change: This includes strategies and action plans detailing the physical actions required to facilitate the change. Usually, organisations have an understanding of what needs to be addressed to achieve this aspect of transformation.

The psychological nature of change: Organisations, other than having an awareness of resistance to change, are usually lacking in what is required to facilitate and support the psychological changes needed for all levels of staff to adapt to change. Put simply, you cannot exhort, command or coerce people to psychologically embrace and commit to change; you need to be able to lead, manage and support teams appropriately - in what are termed the softer aspects of change - if successful change is to be realised though the commitment of the workforce. When addressed effectively staff may even welcome change and the opportunities it provides - even when difficult transitions have to be addressed (for example, loss of jobs and/or status).

Equipping the organisation for transitions

Organisations need to help develop leaders and managers capabilities in order to assist them in supporting teams to glean all the benefits of organisational change. This means developing knowledge, understanding, and implementation practices which can help achieve change. Specifically, this would not only address physical aspects of change, but also help leaders and managers be prepared to address the psychological transitions needed to help their teams, and themselves, successfully navigate the change process.

There are many psychological issues to take into consideration, including the identification of the stages people move through when faced with change transitions (via the use of models such as the Change Curve and Bridges Transition Model). Leaders should also think about the development of mind-sets that can enable colleagues to embrace change, as well as the building of emotional intelligence and resilience required for leading and managing transitions. Another key area to focus on is the development of team spirit and communication strategies and techniques to provide credible messages that engage, invigorate, enthuse and promote action from the team members.

Once your leaders have addressed these factors, change and transition will be much more successful and easier to manage.

If your organisation is going through change contact our Group training team and discover more about our Transition management training options, or view our Individual programme course Transition management: leading teams through change.

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