In times of uncertainty, leaders and managers face a particular set of challenges. Regardless of the type of change or level of disruption, there are four essential elements to take into account.
Roles are constantly evolving and strategies should take this into account
With the rapid pace of digitilisation, together with a tumultuous political and social landscape, it’s impossible to plan for every potential outcome. Instead, we should focus on educating people that change will happen and helping them to refine their skills accordingly. Tasks are replaced, not jobs, and people’s roles will constantly evolve – this is not a new phenomenon. Training strategies should incorporate personal development plans that give people the tools they need to be able to adapt and be open to new ways of learning and working.
Clear communication and inclusivity are essential. Leaders should be absolutely transparent about what the potential outcomes of any change are and engage in collaboration and consultation across the organisation. Strong leadership means making a compelling case for change, but effective consultation means asking the right questions and being prepared to act on the answers.
Have a support plan in place
Management teams often focus resources on trying to anticipate how people will react to change and having responses ready. While this may be necessary to a certain extent, an effective change management strategy should focus on anticipating the support that will be needed for any change, not the reaction to a specific announcement. A set of questions should be developed that can be applied to any set of circumstances: what form should support take and how long should it be in place? Will external resources be required? Be objective, not subjective.
Ensure a consistent message
You can’t expect the workforce to cope with change if the leadership team isn’t aligned, so it’s essential to ensure every leader is working towards a clear set of goals and outcomes. The values of the organisation must be agreed and very clearly laid out, and the leadership team given one-to-one coaching or mentoring and have peer-to-peer discussions to ensure everyone is delivering the same message.