Back to Blog
When you lead a company, you realize that change is constant. This applies to changes in the marketplace, your industry, the day-to-day processes you use, and maybe even your employee base as workers are tempted by and accept job offers elsewhere. The challenge for us, as leaders, is learning how to accept, anticipate, embrace, and ultimately, lead our companies through change as a part of doing business.
Following is some advice I’ve gained through my own leadership journey.
Be prepared to lead.
Your employees, from senior managers to front-line staff, are looking to you to provide much-needed leadership before, during and after change. To accomplish this, you must have a high level of confidence. You also have to be consistent in your positions related to change. This means demonstrating, through your words and actions, that you’re firmly in charge. Employees respect a strong leader, but that respect is earned. Your confidence and commitment to facing impending change will be needed to engender employee support.
Explore all the options before committing.
Gain all the knowledge you need. No one in a leadership position should ever enter into a situation that brings about change without examining it from every perspective before making a decision. Strong leaders make decisions after carefully considering all available data. They also understand the importance of seeking opinions and asking questions of trusted colleagues, mentors and others. Look at the likely positives and negatives related to possible change and make an educated, well-thought-out decision.
Initiate the change yourself.
Take the reins and be in control. Don’t allow change to control. In some ways, this means being tough. It’s smart to prepare for transitions by planning and gathering necessary resources and fortifying relationships. At the same time, you’ll need to maintain a strong company. If you’re a leader who has built a solid track record of innovation, and if you’re known for being an effective decision-maker, your employees will place their trust in your ability to lead them through changes, and might even look forward to it.
Be transparent and empathetic.
Although you have an inside track and know what kinds of changes will be forthcoming, many on your staff likely don’t. It’s important for leaders to realize this and to consider what concerns they might have. In large part, their concerns are practical ones; they want to know how their jobs will be affected and how their families might be impacted. This is why it’s important to provide them with timely communication that explains the benefits (to them and the company) associated with the planned changes and how their daily routines will or won’t be different. By this same token, encourage them to ask specific questions, then provide them with answers in a public forum like a meeting, employee newsletter or intranet site. This kind of openness is a very good tactic from a public relations perspective so gossip and innuendo don’t get communicated in lieu of a truthful message.
Share your vision. Let your employees know that successful change will only be possible if everyone in the company is on the same page. Tell them that only by working together as a strong team will good things result -- whether increased revenue, heightened market competitiveness or even company survival. Inspire them. Persuade them to accept change and believe in your vision. Provide them with a clear picture of what the future will hold. Get everyone to focus on the same goal and the need to work together to achieve it.
Change is going to happen at some point. By preparing to lead it, all transitions that occur should take place as smoothly as possible.