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A Leadership Guide to Managing Change

By Ingrid Cliff

Leaders play a key role in managing change. Effective managers help find and crystallize future direction, set expectations for behavior and performance and priorities, walk the talk and influence the direction of future systems and procedures.

7 Ways to help people transition through change

1. Work out who's going to be in transition because of this change and how this will affect them individually and as a group.

2. Provide as much information to employees as is reasonably and prudently possible. There are no information vacuums in times of change. The best way to control the grapevine is to provide consistent, frequent and reliable information. Discuss the positives and negatives of change as well as the rationale for change. Over communicate rather than under-communicate.

3. Manage and capitalize on the Separation, Crisis and Rebirth Stages. Build in ways to help people let go of the past.

Legitimize concerns.

Explain the process. Giving people tools to explain their behavior can "unblock" the process.

Stay calm and professional.

Allow space for venting feelings.

Be firm with regards the basic position but flexible with inconsequential items.

Focus on long term benefits.

Show concern for staff.

Encourage staff discussions of change and their reactions to it.

Allow time for person and collective stocktaking.

Work to re-establish control, understanding, support and purpose of staff. People need some control somewhere - help them create areas of control. They need to understand the change and their reactions to it - work to help them increase their understanding, set up and improve a support system, have a sense of personal purpose.

Focus on quick successes and small wins.

Encourage your team to let go of the old.

Praise positive behavior.

Generate involvement in the solution by engaging your team in the problem solving process.

4. Allow symbolic endings - (eg: farewell parties). Let employees sum up their past. It helps them to let it go.

5. Facilitate the beginning of the new. Clearly articulate the new behavior and attitudes that the changes are going to require - don't be abstract, be specific. What people need to know is: What's the attitude? What's the behavior? Tell me how I am supposed to be handling this?

6. Reduce, to the extent you can, the number of changes that you are dealing with at the one time.

7. Manage your own transition - actively seek information about your own losses, accept that you will also go through a period of mourning. Take time alone to think and imagine. Vent only with your family or other managers in private.

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Ingrid Cliff is an experienced HR Manager and Human Resources Writer who is the author of "Instant HR Policies and Procedures" and "Employee Performance Reviews : Tips, Templates & Tactics"

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