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The Change Challenge

    Change – it’s inevitable, necessary, and leads to growth, we’ve heard it all before. Then why does it feel like trying to drag an elephant up a sandhill just to get any change implemented in the workplace?

    Let’s face it; change is uncomfortable and easier to resist than embrace. It’s like breaking in a new pair of jogging shoes when your old, worn runners are just so darn comfy. Plus, for some of your experts, change might feel like a threat because their hard-earned skills could become outdated. And don’t forget that big changes, like restructuring the whole organization, can be downright scary!

    Before we dive deeper, let’s talk about stress. Change creates it, and there’s no way around it, but we can manage change effectively to smoothen the transition. Handle it poorly, and well, brace yourself for an anxiety avalanche.

    You see, we live in a world that’s always evolving, where agility is king. Those who adapt to change faster are the ones who succeed. So instead of dragging the elephant, how about we encourage it to walk up that hill? 

    The Mindset for Change

    Know Your People

    Remember how differently people reacted to pandemic rules? It was a rollercoaster of emotions! Some were all in, immediately following the rules and feeling grateful for the precautions because it made them feel safer. Then there were those who were like, “Eh, whatever,” and went along with it, even if they weren’t jumping for joy. Others complied only when guidelines became law, and of course, there were some who rebelled.

    Well, the same goes for change in the workplace. Some folks are early adopters, while others need a little nudge. And yes, there might be a few rebels in the mix too. It’s like a colorful puzzle of personalities, and you, dear manager, need to be sensitive to their emotions. Understand that employees may feel threatened or overwhelmed or that they may be cautious and methodical in their approach. 

    Managers First, Always

    As a manager, you’re the trailblazer, the pacesetter, the one who sets the example. If you’re not open to change, don’t expect your team to be either. So let’s take a moment to reflect: how receptive are you to change? No more vague “It depends” answers when asked about it.

    Good Change, Bad Change: Keeping Emotions in Check

    Let’s talk about perceived “Good Change” and “Bad Change.” I know that when I saw a change as beneficial, I would jump right in with enthusiasm. But when I couldn’t see the value or felt like it would cause extra work or negative reactions from employees, oh boy, I’d be the elephant getting dragged with a million excuses.

    Here’s the thing, my focus was solely on MY view of change. I let my feelings about change seep in, and that messed up how I managed it. When I deemed it a “Good Change,” I’d leap without considering essential steps for effective change management.

    On the flip side, dragging your heels about change is just as bad. A true leader means leading, not wavering. Your team looks up to you for confidence and conviction. No one wants a wishy-washy manager, right?

    I learned a valuable lesson. When change must happen, it’s best to follow a process and get on with it. Procrastination won’t do any good. If the business mandates a change, well, it’s happening regardless of whether you agree or not. And if you don’t support it, you become the stall in the change management wheel. Let’s keep the elephant moving instead!

    Make No Assumptions

    Ever been all hyped up about a new project or procedure, only to be met with an unenthusiastic response from your team? Well, it happens when we let our assumptions cloud our judgment.

    I remember this one time when we had a significant system upgrade in the works. It was supposed to automate a bunch of tasks for our customer service reps – a real game-changer! I could already see the improved productivity, fewer errors, and shorter customer wait times. Win, win, right? So, with excitement bubbling over, I introduced the change during a meeting, expecting cheers and high-fives. But guess what? The response was lukewarm at best. It felt like a balloon popped!

    Turns out, while I saw all the benefits, my team saw their jobs threatened. Oops, I totally missed considering their perspective.

    On the flip side, when you’re introducing a change, don’t bring your negative baggage along. Sure, it’s normal to be cautious if you’ve seen a similar change flop in the past. But others might see it as something new and exciting! So let’s set our assumptions aside and focus on making the change happen while supporting our awesome team along the way. The goal is to support the team, not judge the change.

    Embracing Unpleasant Changes

    Some changes aren’t all rainbows and sunshine. Some of you may remember the days before stringent airport security. You could stroll onto a plane without all the hassle of baggage checks, X-ray machines, and body searches. When strict security measures were implemented,  people complained loudly and tried to resist.

    When faced with an unpleasant change, the key is to understand why it is happening. Talk it out with peers, mentors, or your boss. Keep an open mind, even if you don’t fully agree. Then, make a plan and move forward. After all, if you want to get on that plane, you need to comply, right? So, instead of wasting energy grumbling, start peeling off the layers so that you don’t miss your flight.

    Tips for Effective Change Management

    By incorporating these additional change management tips, managers can successfully lead their teams through times of change with confidence and effectiveness.

    • Get yourself on board first: Understand the change, its purpose, and how it will be implemented. Grab a garbage can and stuff your assumptions and personal feelings in it. You can be enthusiastic; however, be sensitive to how your employees may feel. 
    • Communicate and communicate more: Communication is key, and in times of change, it becomes even more vital. Keep your team well-informed about the reasons driving the change, the expected outcomes, and how it impacts their roles. Be transparent about any uncertainties, and create an environment that encourages open discussions to address concerns. Share stories, answer questions, and paint a clear picture for your team to ensure there’s no room for misunderstandings. Don’t let noise disrupt the flow – after all, who wants numerous post-discussions of everything left unsaid? Look out for blank stares, crossed arms, and lack of eye contact; these are signs that more discussion is needed. On conference calls, silence is not golden, so create a space where everyone feels comfortable to contribute and engage openly. 
    • Set clear expectations, timelines, and ways to measure progress: It’s all about staying on track. Here is an article for more guidance on how to set and follow up expectations.
    • Involve the Team in the Change Process: Encourage active participation from your team members in planning and implementing the change. Involving them in decision-making creates a sense of ownership and commitment to the process. Appoint an employee as a change champion. Tap into your early adopters, and get the whole team on board.
    • Lead by example: Show your support, even if you’re not jumping with joy. Be open for discussion and genuine in your approach.
    • Provide Training and Support: Ensure that your team receives the necessary training and support to adapt to the change successfully. Offer resources, workshops, or coaching to help them acquire new skills or knowledge required for the transition.
    • Keep the spotlight on progress:  Stick to your expectations and don’t tolerate non-compliance. Go overboard on follow-up and feedback initially if necessary. You may need to micromanage a bit to make sure things move forward.
    • Stay Flexible: Recognize that change is a dynamic process. Stay agile and be prepared to make adjustments to your approach if needed.
    • Celebrate success:  Encourage employees to share their stories. When challenges arise, focus on solutions and collaborate with other teams. Acknowledge the milestones achieved during the change process and celebrate the successes. Recognizing the efforts of your team boosts morale and reinforces their commitment to the change.
    • Offer Psychological Support: Recognize that change can be emotionally challenging for some team members. Offer psychological support and create a safe space for them to express their feelings and concerns.


    In a nutshell, change is never easy, but it’s necessary for growth and success. Leading change with confidence and agility is your superpower as a manager. So let’s stop dragging the elephant and become front-runners of the change challenge! 

    “The reality is the only way change comes is when you lead by example”

    Anne Wojcicki

    Ponder Points

    Want to level up your game and supercharge your growth? Use the following ponder points for journal prompts. Writing down your thoughts, experiences, and emotions will give you incredible clarity and understanding of your actions. Plus, it’s a safe space to explore challenges and track patterns, setting you on the path to success.

    How do I typically react to changes within the workplace? Do I embrace them with enthusiasm, or do I find myself dragging my feet?

    Have there been instances where my emotions or personal biases influenced how I managed a change? If so, how did it impact the outcome?

    How well do I communicate the value and importance of changes to my team? Do I provide enough context and clarity to help them understand the “why” behind the change?

    Do I actively seek feedback from my team during the change process? Do I create an open and safe space for them to express their concerns and suggestions?

    How do I handle resistance to change within my team? Do I address it proactively and constructively, or do I tend to avoid dealing with it?

    Have you faced challenges implementing change? Share your experience and any tips you have.

    Share Your Thoughts