Leading Employees Through Change

Posted on in Growth Strategies

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It’s a fact that many people resist change. But, change is part of doing business, whether that business is selling cars, building skyscrapers or providing home medical equipment. Big changes – e.g., new leadership, new location, new systems – can often result in employees who struggle to remain productive and optimistic.

Here are suggestions to help you lead your organization through a transition:

  1. Keep communication wide open. Employees turn to management for answers in times of stress and uncertainty. You may be able to have a positive impact on your employees’ initial reactions by keeping them informed. Be as specific as you can to prevent the rumor mill from working overtime. Throughout the change process, provide them with answers to these six questions:
    • What is the change?
    • Who will it affect?
    • When will it happen?
    • Where will it happen?
    • How will it happen?
    • Why will it happen?


  2. Listen – really listen. Even armed with those answers, your employees may still express reservations. It’s critical that you listen carefully to their concerns, take seriously what they have to say and offer reassurances where needed. Changes within an organization don’t happen in a vacuum; the most seamless execution of change occurs when everyone takes ownership of the transition.


  3. Get employees involved. One way to gain employee buy-in is to encourage them to participate in the change process. Humans are creatures of habit. Once we establish a stable routine – whether at work or home – a level of comfort sets in. Upsetting that routine can be extremely unsettling. Including your employees in the change process – when and how appropriate – will demonstrate that you’re in this together and can better ensure a smoother, successful transition.


  4. Accentuate the positive. Just as employees look to management for answers, they often mimic their leaders’ attitudes toward change. Focus on the positive side of change, and discuss how the change will benefit the company, your customers and your employees. Simple gestures can have a much larger impact than you might think, e.g., a sincere word of thanks, a short handwritten note of appreciation or group recognition for a job well done.


  5. Focus on what you can control. There are always aspects of change that you and your employees can control and others you cannot. The Serenity Prayer has provided direction to many as they go through difficult periods.

God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference

- Reinhold Niebuhr, American theologian

For more tips on how to effectively lead your staff through change and best practices on managing people, download the Analyzing Business Operations Playbook today! VGM members are able to download the eBook in its entirety for free, and non-members can download a preview.