Human Resources

Train Managers and Supervisors to Manage Change

It’s often said that change is the only constant in life, but change at an organization can be met with resistance, dismissal, or fear on the part of employees. Training can help managers and supervisors identify issues that make employees apathetic to change and can make it easier for these employees to absorb change.

“When team members seem passive or apathetic to change, there’s usually one of three things going on: They didn’t have awareness or know about a change; they didn’t understand the change and didn’t have the skills to be successful with it; or they just didn’t prefer the change,” says Chris Laping, cofounder and CEO of People Before Things, LLC, and author of People Before Things: Change Isn’t an End-User Problem.

Laping says there are seven conditions that influence people’s ability to absorb change and, as a result, help drive the success of change initiatives.

“… [I]f leaders provide the right conditions, it literally determines success before any new change is even implemented,” Laping says. “That requires a different mindset than the traditional approach of training and communications, which disproportionately puts the burden of change on the team members. Rather, leaders can influence some fairly simple conditions which exponentially improve their odds of building ‘followership.’”

The first condition is Alignment—that is, “ensuring team members know the why behind any given change,” he says.

The second is Capacity, which involves “allowing team members to focus on and absorb a new change.”

The third condition is Design, which means ensuring that change is “intuitive and easy to understand.”

Fourth, Communications—that is, creating awareness and clarity about the change—is key when implementing change.

The fifth condition is Learning. “Learning should be focused on the application of new ideas and skills versus the mindset of memorization. People have a much better chance of learning when they’re in an environment where it’s safe to fail, they can frequently practice something new and build mastery, and, finally, where they can share their learnings in an influential way with their peers.”

Sixth, Stakeholder Engagement involves two-way feedback and taking “demonstrable action” with team members’ ideas and feedback, Laping says.

Seventh, managers and supervisors should provide nurturing, high-touch Support, particularly early in change initiatives.