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3 ways to positively lead change

light board with the words 'time for change' on it

As a business owner, a vital element of leading change is your ability to manage resistance to it. As humans, we are wary to change. Routine and predictability make us feels safe, while uncertainty evokes threat and anxiety. So when you want to introduce change to your company and team, it’s important you know why there will be pushback, and what you can do to minimise that pushback and make everyone feel comfortable with change.

People resist change for a variety of reasons—not understanding why the change in necessary, being unsure of how those changes will affect them, feeling comfortable and assured with the way things currently are, experiencing ‘bad’ changes before, and just a general, innate fear of the unknown. For change to be successful, it requires a willingness to adopt it, and it is the leader’s responsibility—and skill—to encourage this willingness.

But humans are not wholly resistant to change. We are, as a species, curious and strive to understand and make sense of the world around us. By bringing this curiosity into your change management strategy, you make change seem exciting and full of possibility.

Here are three things you can do to manage resistance to change and replace it with openness instead.

1. Expect resistance

During change, it will be natural for your team members to ask things like, “Why are we changing?” and “What does this mean for me?” So, you need to be prepared beforehand to provide them with solid answers to these questions. Have a solid strategy in place that shows everyone this is not something you’re doing on a whim.

Everyone responds differently to change, so pay attention to each individual’s concerns and address them accordingly. People are far less resistant to change if they feel secure and have a full understanding of the changes taking place.

three people smiling in a meeting room
Presenting change as an opportunity for personal growth is a great way to meet its resistance.

2. Identify what change symbolises

While resistance to change is essentially down to a fear of the unknown, there will likely be deeper factors involved. A team member might see a change as undermining their position or even a threat to it. A particular change might appear as though it’s going to derail someone’s ambition, their status, their very identity.

One of the attributes of a great leadership is empathy. And when change is afoot, it’s important you take the time to listen to and understand each individual’s emotions, and do what’s needed to help them along the process.

3. Instil a culture of self-development and wellness

Change is most likely to occur to offset uncertainty, and this mix of change and insecurity will inevitably takes its toll on your teams’ physical and mental wellbeing. Make sure you have a culture of openness over matters such as mental health and, better yet, offer professional help to those who ask for it.

Change will also present the chance for people to adapt their roles and step up. Framing change in such a way will reduce that fear of no longer being relevant or useful. It also gives you the opportunity to offer training and development for those team members who want to grow personally and professionally. Make sure they know this is available to them.

  • We understand that instilling change in a smooth and successful way can be difficult. This is why Evolve offers Team Development Training Days to give you the advice and clarity you need to create positive change.

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