How to lead effective change management

Before you embark on a change management program, you need to understand how you deal with change yourself

In order to be successful, change leaders first need to understand how they themselves deal with change, said Sonia McDonald, CEO of LeadershipHQ.

In other words, they must be comfortable enough with the change that they will confidently see it through.

“If they are going through change as an organization or as a department, and find it difficult or uncomfortable then it’s going to be very difficult for them to lead it,” she added.

McDonald also told L&D Professional that leaders need to understand how others are feeling about it.

She explained that it’s important for leaders to comprehend that it’s OK to find change hard and that that’s not an uncommon feeling.

“Some people really embrace it, while others find it really difficult,” she said.  

“Your job is to put yourself in the shoes of others.”

Another key mistake that McDonald sees with change management is a lack of communication. In particular, this can occur when people feel uncertain about change which is a ‘big faux pas’.

“Leaders need to be honest, transparent, and communicate frequently,” she said.

“Even if you don’t know what’s going on, you still have to communicate. Even if you say: ‘I don’t know what’s happening but I’m just informing you this is where we are at’.

“Keep those communication lines open and create as much certainty as you can.”

She added that it’s especially important to encourage people and acknowledge their progress.

Add fun into the experience and give them the freedom to try new things, she said.

Moreover, it’s essential to understand that emotions do play a part.

“You might have people in the organization or in the team going: ‘Oh my gosh, this is really scary, I’m really fearful, I’m really angry and I’m really upset about this’.

As a leader, it’s really important that you acknowledge their situation and understand it, she said.

“Don’t tell them to go away, forget about it, call them an idiot or just accept it,” McDonald said.

In fact, she added that change resistance can actually be beneficial because you might be able to get some useful information or a different perspective from others.

“And then you can say: ‘Actually I hadn’t seen that, maybe we really do need to look at this as part of the change’.”

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