How New Managers Can Use Change Management Leadership Tools to Help Their Teams Adapt

Regardless of the industry, no business can afford to remain stagnant. Change must happen, and a structured change management plan is key to moving both individuals and the teams they work with from their existing state to a proposed state that’s rooted in strategy and vision. However, as you may have already discovered during your time in management, no matter the management skills you possess, deviating from a dominant culture to new processes isn’t always easy. 

There are many possible barriers to implementing change, including employee resistance, communication breakdown and even the different personality types in the team. All of these factors can make it difficult to get your people onboard with the plans, resulting in new strategies that aren’t implemented well, time delays in reengineering processes, and the development of seemingly high quality procedures that fail to deliver results. 

Leading Through Change

While any leader can struggle through change management, new leaders are especially vulnerable to making mistakes. By nature, you probably have quite a directive management style - a quality that contributed towards your promotion - and while this approach may be effective in overall team leadership, it may not be quite what’s needed for change management leadership; for helping your team to adapt. 

According to Gartner, 50% of all change initiatives result in failure, while just one third are considered to be successful. As a manager, a significant role that you must play within the organisation is ‘leader of change’; it’s a big responsibility, but it’s critical in ensuring that your team adapts well, and that any change initiative is successful. 

Change Management Leadership

Change management leadership means bringing together change management and leadership development into a single combined approach. Part of this approach will come from the practical skills you pick up as you continue to learn the ropes within your new role and complete more leadership online courses, but in the meantime there are a number of change management leadership tools that can be highly effective in helping you support your team through change:

  • Employee Analysis Tools

Scott Keller and Bill Schaninger, Senior Partners at insights firm McKinsey, released a book titled ‘Beyond Performance 2.0’ which highlights some of the most vital research in change management leadership. They found that absolutely no change management programmes were successful amongst organisations that overlooked the needs of employees during periods of disruption. They also found that companies that took a people-centric approach to change were 4 times more likely to see the desired results. 

Employee analysis is one of the most vital change management leadership tools that you can use, especially if you’ve been finding it challenging to connect with the many different personalities within your team, all of which require an individualistic approach.

  • Training Tools

Training courses that are specifically dedicated to helping new managers adapt to their roles and create harmony between their leadership responsibilities and their change management responsibilities can be highly beneficial. However, don’t overlook the potential power of training for select members of your team, too. Training can be key to getting your people excited about change, and these individuals can act as influencers who spread this excitement throughout the organisation as a whole. 

McKinsey reports that businesses are nearly 4 times more likely to succeed when they incorporate internal influencers in their change management programmes. People talk, and while we can’t always manage the conversation, we can try to manage the sentiment. 

  • Tracking Tools

Tracking tools act as tangible proof that change works, making them an essential on any list of potential change management leadership tools. However, one of the most important things that you can do as a leader of change is to remain consistent with your use of these tools. Referring back to the McKinsey research above, although change programmes are upwards of 7 times more likely to succeed when relevant metrics are tracked, less than one third of businesses actually track the metrics they say they do.

Your team will naturally be wary of change if they can’t connect this change with the end results. And end results can often take a significant amount of time to materialise. Tracking tools offer short-term successes and can motivate your team to stick to the new processes. 

  • Communications Tools

Among the many reasons why you were promoted to a management role, communication is likely to be one of them. You naturally excel at personal communication. However, if you’ve been involved heavily in a change programme’s story from the start, it’s important to remember that your team hasn’t. This can make your messages appear disjointed and disconnected. Your communication approach must be adapted in order to maintain a clear and transparent channel with your team. Taking part in difficult conversations exercises could help you to communicate more effectively when it comes to conveying key aspects of your change program.

Communications tools can help to boost real time, transparent communications between yourself and your team which can also smooth the transition. Such systems keep lines of communication open and up-to-date, allowing your team to stay present on any amendments to the programme, ask questions, and request support when needed. 

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