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Guiding Your Team Through Change Amidst COVID-19

COVID-19 has taught us many things, including things we never imagined we would need to know … like the real value of toilet paper. It also showed us how easily we took for granted the simple act of hugging a loved one or having a relaxing dinner with friends after a stressful week. In general, this pandemic has reinforced the lesson that change is the only true constant.

Our daily lives have changed drastically in the past few months, and they are going to continue to shift in the weeks to come. As business leaders, it is our job to execute the changes necessary to keep our organizations afloat. Implementing these changes can be a daunting and challenging task. Many leaders will struggle. However, there are simple strategies you can apply to make the process easier for everyone.

  1. Get on board. You must accept the change. If you do not understand and believe in the efficacy of the changes, your team will never buy it either.
  2. Tell the whole story. When you are relaying information about changes to your employees, tell them everything. Fill them in on why these changes matter, how it will affect their day to day lives, and what the expected outcomes are. If there are elements of the plan that are still developing, tell them that too. You cannot over-communicate when you are explaining changes.
  3. Check-in. When you are first delivering the message of change, tell your team that they can come to you with questions. Let them know when you will be available to speak with them individually. Set up office hours (virtually or in-person, depending on your current work set up). Then go beyond your office hours and reach out to the individuals and ask them how they feel about the changes. Yes, invite the feedback and listen to it.
  4. Listen. Inevitably, someone will voice his/her concerns about the changes you are making. Their ideas could be a business-related concern, or they could be fear-based, either way, listen. By listening to this person, you are validating their viewpoint and showing that you value and respect them. Simply listening to then can go a long way to gaining buy-in from an employee.
  5. Invite the resistance to be a part of the solution. If an employee says that they are concerned about a change you have presented, ask them how they would solve the problem. Often people are resistant to change because they are fearful or feel slighted, but when you invite them to provide their idea for a solution, you are engaging the person in the process and giving them a sense of control. You also might hear an idea you had not yet considered and can use this as an opportunity to create more employee buy-in by showing that you value your employee’s thoughts and ideas.