As much of a given as change is, adapting to it and leading through it continues to be a challenge for managers – for human beings, really. It's not uncommon to confuse comfort with success. Comfort, though, is simply knowing what’s coming next. Pushing out of our comfort zones is oftentimes what determines the success of a team, as well as an organization.
Being a manager that adapts to change and helps her team adapt as well is essential to keeping employee engagement up. Here are 6 tips to keep your team engaged during turbulent times.
1. Understand the change. Oftentimes miscommunication comes because there isn’t clarity about what the changes are and how they will affect each person’s job. Before communicating changes to your employees, understand exactly what they are and what the implications are for each person’s position.
2. Communicate changes to the team quickly. There’s nothing worse than the grapevine. It causes insecurity and misinformation, and welcome to the mountain-out-of-a-molehill effect. Ugh. Create a strategic communication plan. Call a meeting. If everyone can't meet, send an e-mail to give your team a heads up so the change is, at least, on your team’s radar. Then prepare for the barrage of questions.
3. Support the change. As a manager, sometimes decisions are made that you don’t agree with. Fair enough. But understanding the business reasons for the change and explaining them to your team is really important. If you communicate changes through gritted teeth, grumping about it, and making off-handed passive-aggressive comments, your team, too, will be slow to adopt. This can kill employee engagement.
4. Find the right fit. Explore competencies and ensure each contributor recognizes her strengths and weaknesses. Usually changes come with extra training (in particular technology). What is your plan to develop your team? Create a culture of continuous improvement.
5. Horizontify. No, this isn’t a word. But really, smart managers match talents to tasks, regardless of rank. Become a project-focused team instead of a hierarchy team. For this to work, though, a manager needs to know her team’s strengths and weaknesses and find ways to stretch, and challenge them, to succeed.
6. Celebrate! Change is hard. When your team succeeds, celebrate it, acknowledge it, and exhale.
Navigating chaos is a key piece of a managers’ success. Leading through change and keeping your team engaged, even excited, is the best way to help your direct reports and organization grow. So, time to get out of your comfort zone and lead.