Published on 06/04/2015
Managing People through Change
Companies don’t change unless people change. Whether a small nuance or a drastic overhaul, chances are that your company is going through some sort of change as you are reading this. Product updates, process improvements, hiring/churn: these are all changes happening within our organizations. The true challenge comes in managing people through change.
Some companies go through more frequent change than others. Being a Sales Director at a SaaS company, I am surrounded by changes in product and process. For this reason, it becomes essential that my team handles these changes the right way. I am constantly evaluating methods for me to manage people through change. Through my experience and that of great leaders I know, I’ve identified three keys to managing people through change.
- Be Honest: I discovered a number of years ago that my employees are very smart and perceptive. To my dismay, I’ve even noticed many are smarter than me. I say this to point out the fact they can smell my BS coming from a mile away. If a change is occurring within your organization or your team, employees are smart enough to know there is a reason for it. Either we are correcting a previous mistake or preparing for a future, larger shift. This is an ideal opportunity to do just that. To get the buy in of your team, your best bet is to be honest and explain why the change is occurring.
- Be Specific: When rolling out new processes or procedures, it’s crucial that you have specifics laid out. A great best practice is to introduce the new concept to one or two of your employees whose opinions you value the most. They can help you think through the new process and ways of measuring performance. They always think of things we haven’t. (Added benefit: these employees can also help you champion the coming change within your team.) Once processes have been rolled out, consistently manage to very specific metrics. Take as much ambiguity out of performance assessment as possible. The more black/white job responsibilities are, the easier they are to measure and the more likely employees will accomplish what we need.
- Be Confident: Maybe it’s because I lead a Sales team, but boy do my employees have a high EQ. I can remember a few times I tried to roll out a new strategy or process without being confident. Let’s just spare you the gory details and say, things did not go well. Working under the assumption that you are a good leader, I guarantee your team believes in you more than they do the company. If you truly believe in the new direction and come across in that manner, then your team will too. And guess what? Sometimes these new procedures will not go as planned initially. If you keep your calm when that happens, then maybe your employees won’t act like this.
In order for leaders to execute against planned change, we have to be able to be these three things for our people. Behind the scenes, it’s just as crucial for us to be prepared with information and have the visibility to determine if employees are executing necessary tasks to push us through organizational transformation. Armed with the ability to manage people through change in the three ways outlined above, as well as being given real time information, we can accomplish any strategic shift.