By Tina Hatfield, Mountainland Supply
Your muscles are tense, breathing rapidly, your heart is pounding, and you have a strong urge to just run. Run away, that is. Why? Because you've just been informed of a significant change within the company. Not only will it affect you, but your team as well. Stressful? Absolutely!
How many of us have been here before? I'm betting all of us have in some form. Whether you've had to lead your team, or you have been part of a team being directed, we have all experienced this. Change is inevitable. It happens and it happens often. So, how do pull yourself together and pull off the smoothest transition possible with your team? While there are several ways to cope with the stress of managing and leading a team through change, I would like to focus on 4 simple practices.
Open the communication flood gates
Always share what you know. Share important details, deadlines, objectives and updates. Keeping your team in the communication loop is key to not only alleviating some of their worries and stress, but it is super empowering and encourages collaboration. Likewise, invite and encourage your team to reciprocate the communication. Make yourself available for questions, updates, and concerns they may have.
Plan, Place and Pace your team
Decide where your team needs to be. What is the end goal? Create a plan that is detailed, yet easy to follow. Setting milestones is a great way to decrease the stress level when tackling a project.
While setting your milestones, consider the skill sets and talents of each person on your team. Delegate milestones and/or specific tasks to the appropriate person. This will not only give you a peace of mind, but it will boost their accountability when they realize their value.
Pace yourself. Avoid trying to tackle everything at once, no matter how tempting it may be. Gradually implement your plan and respect the plan you created. Should you find it isn't working according to your vision, that's okay. Reevaluate and revise your plan. Just remember to communicate the revision to the team.
Prepare to mitigate conflicts
Conflicts are going to happen. Emotions and tempers are going to run on high. Depending on the change, people are going to feel uncertain and frustrated. These feelings could be towards themselves, others or the situation in general. It is the leader's job to help resolve these conflicts. Be sure to provide clarification and encouragement.
Cheer and Celebrate
Sometimes we get so caught up in managing and leading, we forget to applaud our team. Cheer your team on and celebrate successes, no matter how small. Everyone likes to feel valued and recognized.
I have found this simple guide extremely helpful while leading several teams through changes of all sizes. We don't have it easy. Not only do we have to keep our own stress levels down, but that of our teams. Our reactions and course of action can greatly influence the outcome of how our teams adapt and hopefully have a better reaction the next time we hear the word change.