The oft-repeated adage, “the only constant in life is change” is true of business as well. In today’s fast-paced environment, businesses and the people who lead them need to constantly change in order to keep their competitive edge. The most successful leaders know that it’s not enough to live with or manage change - you need to thrive in it. Here are the top habits of leaders who work well with change:
Leaders Make Change a Priority
The status quo takes little energy to maintain, but change takes a great deal of effort. Instead of waiting for change to happen, leaders create change and help others navigate it. They anticipate changes in their company or in market conditions and reinvent their approach accordingly. When they lead change, they focus on the effort daily in order to track its progress and help others along.
Leaders Don’t Take Change Personally
Sometimes we have little control over changes that happen in the market or at our place of work. This is most often because politics, economic and social conditions, and public expectations have shifted and interacted with each other. Leaders recognize that most change is ultimately not about them, but it provides new opportunities such as bringing in new talent or helping junior employees move up.
Leaders Prepare Their Teams for Change
It’s important for leaders to make sure their teams understand the upcoming changes in terms of job security, the supply chain, and the organisation. For many employees, their jobs are a significant part of their financial security and self confidence, so they tend to be averse to change. Leaders make sure their team members understand how their roles will be impacted, and they help their staff understand and accept the need for change. They also hear people’s thoughts, feelings, and concerns in an effort to remain empathetic and compassionate and assess their team’s needs.
Leaders Communicate About Changes - Constantly
It’s not enough to communicate about changes just once - it often takes people a while to understand and accept what they are hearing. The Victorian Public Sector Commission suggests that leaders should communicate about three times as much as they feel they need to in order to really get the information across. It’s also important to continue communicating once the change is underway, until it is fully in place.
Leaders Stay Focused on Quality Work
During times of organisational change, it may be unclear whether certain projects will still be important after the transition has taken place. Despite this, leaders stay focused on doing great work and check in with their teams about what needs to be accomplished. Morale can slip if employees feel their efforts don’t matter, so leaders continue to expect quality work from their team and celebrate their successes.
Leaders Understand That Change Takes Time
Ultimately, change is about adopting new ways of thinking, behaving, and working. It’s important not to prematurely claim success or move attention away from the change process. Leaders understand that their teams are navigating through the stages of change (acknowledging, reacting, investigating, and implementing) - and that they’re not immune to this adjustment period, either. They focus on getting themselves through change successfully while they continue to help those around them.
To make the most out of change in the workplace, it helps to see change as a necessary, positive entity rather than something to be feared or avoided. Leaders don’t just deal with change - they welcome it.