How (Good) Managers Support A Team Through Uncertainty & Change In The Workplace

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Leaders sometimes have to drive intentional drastic change for the growth of their organizations or lead people in times of inevitable unavoidable change that stares them in their faces.

How they take their people through it can range from inspiring and motivating them to creating fear and chaos.

Often, the bigger challenge is getting the buy-in from your employees, especially when the changes are large and drastic.

Communicating these changes to your team well, without making it seem like the company is in danger all comes down to how well the information is delivered.

Here are 8 best practices to tell your team that the company is moving in a new direction.

1. Be honest about the "what" and the "why."

Any kind of spin or jargon will sound like you're trying to hide something. You will gain and maintain trust if you use simple language and are completely honest about what's changing and why.

If you don’t know the whole picture, admit it. It takes time for the changes coming from the top to trickle down.

Some managers make the mistake of believing their employees cannot handle the truth but people respond well when they're genuinely respected and you're honest with them.

Try staying positive yourself through it, even if some hard decisions need to be made.

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2. Sense the emotional effect of the change.

Dealing with change is hard, even the good changes. As human beings, we like operating in our comfort zone. Anything that looks like it will push us out of it does invoke an emotional response.

As leaders responsible for leading your people in times of change, checking your own emotional response first is most important.

This exercise will allow you to be more cognitive of the emotional response (often, not explicit) of your team.

3. Communicate the timeline and process clearly.

People feel reassured and are more easily able to buy in when you paint a clear picture of the timeline and the events.

Use whatever it takes to communicate that. Set accurate expectations by explaining the process so people can evidently see the path ahead, both the good and bad.

4. Provide a clear call to action.

It's critical to outline what needs to be done and by when. This is what comforts people and gives them a sense of control. Highlight and be clear on the essential action.

5. Answer the question, "What's in it for me?"

You cannot deny that everybody is looking out for how this change will affect their day-to-day existence.

Explain how the changes will benefit the employees. Recognize the things that will be different. Also, acknowledge that some people may not like the new changes.

However, there's always an upside, so highlight that. If there's no immediate upside, then admit it.

Acknowledge that what is happening is difficult and talk about what you will do to make the change as smooth as possible.

Always thank people for their patience, cooperation, contributions to the company, and for understanding the decisions made.

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6. Communication channels.

Large-scale change conversations are usually best delivered from the top. Make sure the messaging strategy starts at the top, and then allows directors and managers to discuss the changes in more detail with their teams.

It's best to communicate changes in smaller groups. This enables people to be uninhibited in asking questions arising from vulnerability.

7. Are certain groups more affected than others?

The same organizational change may lead to affecting some people more than others. Be aware and mindful of how to manage that.

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For example, employees at an offsite location that's being downsized will be more affected than people whose managers are changing.

8. Open two-way communication channels.

Employees need to feel heard. It can be disconcerting for people to hear about a shift in strategy.

Solicit feedback from them. Instead of supporting an environment conducive to encourage speculation, get the questions out early so you can address them head-on.

Create forums where they can ask questions, express their concerns, and feel better. A dedicated concern or question bank is a great start, followed by town hall meetings. They are most helpful in such times.

If executed right, it creates a feeling of dealing with it together and improves bonding. Allow employees to ask questions and address all of them in the best way you can.

If an organization decides to move in a new direction, they are doing so based on trends, market direction, and hopefully quantifiable data.

Be transparent and share this information and the team will understand and buy into the decision willingly.

Your intention of keeping your team’s well-being paramount especially during uncertain and unsettling times of change will be the one thing that will help everyone through it.

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Bhavna Dalal is a master certified executive coach MCC ICF, speaker, and author of "Checkmate Office Politics" who helps people develop their leadership skills, such as executive presence, strategic thinking, influencing, and networking. To learn more about her work, visit her website or follow her on LinkedIn.

This article was originally published at Forbes India. Reprinted with permission from the author.