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The Champion Forum Podcast

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TCF015 Leading Through Change Part 2

Thank you for listening to The Champion Forum Podcast with Jeff Hancher! If you want to successfully lead your company or team through a change, you must have their trust. But if you’ve been a leader or an employee for any length of time, you know that many people believe trust must be earned.

In this episode, Jeff takes a deeper dive into how to build trust and relationship with your team. In the last of Jeff’s 7 steps to leading through change, you will learn how to involve your team in the decision-making process and approach change with humility so that your team feels validated throughout the process. A healthy team will know that change is necessary and healthy when they know that their leader has their best interests at heart, not just the company’s bottom line.

Recap of Last Week

  1. Have a solid plan of execution

  2. When possible, involve the people who will be affected by the change in both planning and implementing the change

  3. Share the information regarding the change with the largest audience possible.

Step 4: Be Honest

  • The change you are making might not be positive for everyone.

  • Painting a glamorous picture during a painful change can lead to suspicion and distrust. Transparency yields credibility.

  • If you lose the trust of your people, you have lost everything.

  • This is especially important when the team sees the change as a benefit to the organization but a setback for them as individuals. For example:

    • You are the owner of a small company but want to grow. You decide to acquire a company that is the same size as yours currently.

    • To you this change as increased revenue and profit. But your team may be faced with increased travel, tighter deadlines, and a larger workload.

  • Your goal is to help your team see the long term benefits of their short term sacrifice. For example, growing your company will create more leadership positions, all you to give your employees better benefits, and positively influence their reputation.

Q: Have you ever worked for a leader you did not trust? What made you lose trust in them? Have you ever had a leader earn back your trust after they lost it? Was this easier or harder than gaining your trust the first time? What can you do to work on the trust relationship with people on your team today?

Step 5: Do not disregard the human element.

  • This is the most frequently skipped, yet most important, step.

  • Recognize that the change you are making effects people, and those people have physical and emotional needs that should be accounted and cared for.

  • When faced with a difficult change, your team is:

    • Asking why

    • Feeling vulnerable.

    • Feeling a lack of empowerment.

    • Wondering what type of impact this will have on them personally.

  • To be successful and maintain your businesses productivity you will need to:

    • Show tremendous empathy and compassion.

    • Establish a clear vision for the future.

    • Reassure your team that things will get better soon as a result of the plan and the strategy you have put into place.

    • Provide as many resources as you can to minimize stress.

    • Be transparent and authentic with the information that you have.

    • Build your trust by having as many one-on-one discussions with the individuals on your team as possible. Listen more than you talk and aim to understand and empower.

Q: How are one-on-one discussions different than group meetings? As a leader or employer, what do you feel you can accomplish in one versus the other? As an employee or team member, what do you feel you can accomplish in one versus the other? How can you use both settings to ensure you are getting the best feedback?

Step 6: Ask for and listen to your team’s feedback after the change is implemented

  • You need to get feedback from your team. If they are not offering it, ask for it.

  • Your most valuable feedback on how the change is working will come from your team.

  • Stay humble. Be willing to make adjustments.

  • Great leaders never focus on who is right, they focus on what is right.

  • By opening up a dialogue between you and your team, you will create a safe environment for them to explain their frustrations. Then, you will have the opportunity to address them.

  • If you fail to do this, you will likely see a decrease in productivity. In a worst-case scenario, you may even see your top performers leave your business.

Q: How has productivity been affected by a recent change your organization made? Have you ever been in an organization that managed change poorly? How, if at all, did your productivity change? How, if at all, would your opinion of the change differ if someone above you listened to your concerns?

Step 7: Create milestones to celebrate the small wins

  • Celebrating wins tells the entire organization that they are going the right way and that the change is producing positive momentum.

  • This recognition reinforces to everyone that the change is worth the extra effort.

  • This will lead to a more motivated team and will push everyone to continue driving toward the vision.

Q: When was the last time you celebrated a win? What types of milestones could you set in a change you are currently going through? What types of celebrations do you respond well to? What celebrations do your team respond well to?

The best leaders think about everyone’s potential reaction to change, account for their feelings, the facts, and the future, and then develop plans to successfully navigate through change.

Application Activities:

  1. Think about the most recent change that you implemented. Did the change come directly from you or from leadership above you? Either way, pick 3-5 employees and spend at least 15 minutes talking to them one-on-one about the change. Ask them how they felt about the change when it was first announced. Ask them about their fears or concerns. Ask them to give you honest feedback about how well you handled those fears and concerns. Then, ask them how they feel about the change now. Is it solving the problem it was supposed to solve? Is it creating any unexpected challenges?

  2. Now that you have some feedback from your team. Take some time to evaluate how well you planned for the change. Compare your team’s feedback against the seven steps we have been discussing for the last two weeks. Did you skip any steps? Note which steps you struggled with and write them down in your planner or journal to remind you to think about them the next time you are planning for change.

  3. Think about the last time your boss made a change that affected you. Did you trust him or her? What made you feel like you could trust him or her? Was it something they did during the change, or did it have more to do with the relationship you had before the change? Did you feel suspicious? What about the way they handled the change made you feel suspicious? Consider how your employees or team might look at you during change. What can you do today to build trust and prepare for change that may be coming tomorrow?

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