A manager's role in leading change

Do you ever feel caught between a rock and a hard place?

Remember when the CEO of Yahoo abolished the work-at-home policy and ordered everyone to work in the office?

Now imagine that you are a manager dealing with this change. You’re losing your remote working privileges, telling your team they have to come into the office every day, and you’re supposed to be okay with this. How are you gonna help your team understand the memo from HR that said, “Face-to-face interaction among employees “fosters a more collaborative culture?”

While studies show that people who work at home are significantly more productive but less innovative, none of that really matters to you or your team. Your ability to work at home is going away and you aren’t happy. You have a unique role in this change. Your role as a manager is to help lead your team through change.

More than likely, there will be a change team who applies the practices of change management. Change management is the application of a structured approach to a transition either an individual or a group from a current state to a future state to achieve expected benefits and organizational objectives. While change management is applying a structured approach to the project, in your role as a manager, leading change is using your skills of influence and inspiring your team to change.

Before you’ve been tasked with helping to lead your team through change, you must build your influence so that you can inspire them through the change. So here are two ways to earn the right to influence your team and lead them through change.

  • build trust. Cultivate trust through open, honest conversation, genuine care for others and listening well.

  • keep your word. You lose credibility and the right to influence when your words and your actions do not match. Keep your word by doing what you say you will do, following through on commitments, showing up on time, and avoiding gossip.

All these behaviors build your influence. Imagine being at Yahoo and learning that you were gonna have to come into the office every day. You didn’t initiate the change, but you are responsible for supporting it and helping your team accept it. As a manager, what do you do when it’s a change you do not agree with? How do you handle this? Here are four insights to handling change you don’t agree with.

  • confirm your understanding. Maybe you’re responding to an incomplete view of a change. Ask questions. Get the information that you need.

  • share appropriately. Do not process your initial frustration or fears about the change with your team. If you overshare, you risk losing your ability to influence them and lead through the change. Find a peer or someone at a more senior level in the organization and ask if they would help you make sense of the change. You need a safe place to deal with the change.

  • reframe the change. If it’s gonna happen, what are the potential positive outcomes?

  • make a decision. Decide whether you will comply with the change or be committed to the change, then lead your team through the change.

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