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Change Management for Teams

Leading Your Team Down the Path of Acceptance

Let’s face it, change is really hard on employees. For your teams, it is even harder. We are now working in a new dynamic – full teams are working from home and we are utilizing online programs to continue functioning as teams.  This is a difficult change in good circumstances but with the conditions surrounding us, even harder to adapt to.

When we are asked to take on any new responsibility or adopt a new behavior, we have to work twice as hard to take on those new actions and make them our routine behavior. Consider the infamous New Year’s Resolutions. How many of these resolutions truly become part of our behavior for the full year and not just a few weeks of change? Go to a fitness facility in January and then compare it to the crowd you see in March. It’s remarkable how quiet the gym will become. Without a very strong motivation to change our behavior, we will naturally fall back into old patterns. What do you do to help your teams adopt new process behaviors if they are against it?

Listen to Your Team

For me, the key comes in listening – true active listening. Active listening is a requirement for high workforce engagement and a high performing team. Ask open-ended, powerful questions to truly understand their concerns.

  • What are their reasons for holding back on this change?
  • Why do they feel this change won’t be good for them?
  • What makes them uncomfortable in adopting a new process?
  • What is it about the old process that is better in their eyes?
  • What do they need from you to adopt this change more easily?

Be Empathetic

Active listening includes powerful questions, paraphrasing for understanding, and most importantly empathy. Empathy plays a huge role in building strong, trusting relationships. It is critical that you empathize with their fear of change, their fear of the future and their overall discomfort. Keep in mind that defensive reactions to their comments will create distrust and a lock down of communication. Be very careful not to react in a defensive way to their comments and feelings.

Communicate Clearly

Once you are certain you have full understanding, you can begin to discuss the issues the team has brought to light. Have they mentioned concerns that are easily remedied? Can you explain the value to your team in adopting this process? Can you share the strengths of the new process readily? Better yet, can you ask the team to identify ways in which this new process will/could be of benefit?  If you have difficulty communicating these pieces to your team, be sure to involve an expert/coach to help. Clear, concise communication will be critical at this point in time.

Build a Plan of Action

Follow your discussion by working to build a plan of action together. What action will your team commit to take to adopt this process? What education, training or support services do they need to adjust their mindsets?

Commit to Work Together

Ask for a commitment from your team and make your own commitment to the team. How will you best support them to adopt this change? What will you do ensure their success using this process? What will you do to remove any roadblocks and barriers to their success? Your commitment will help your team feel supported and more engaged in the new process.


  • Listen – actively, often and with empathy
  • Question – powerfully, without defensiveness
  • Paraphrase – find clear understanding of your team’s feelings
  • Discuss together – clarify misconceptions, clearly articulate value
  • Enact – make an action plan together including commitment from the team and from you
  • Continue this cycle – active listening, powerful questions, clear communication, and take action.

Your team will thrive on the support they are receiving and you will see great results!