Being able to successfully navigate a team through organisational change is a valuable skill for managers, one that requires a delicate balance of authority and emotional intelligence. Change has the potential to evoke the full spectrum of reactions from staff – from positive exuberance and excitement to negativity, obstinance, even depression – and many people find organisational change difficult to deal with. Left un-managed, their inability to cope can have a lasting negative impact, not just on their own work and engagement level, but also on the performance and job satisfaction of their co-workers.

So as a manager, what can you do when someone in your workforce is struggling to cope with change?

Having joined the AIM VT team during a period of great change and development (a new CEO, for one, and now the entire office is moving to the CBD), my own change management skills have been put to the test in recent months. Below are some effective tips I’ve gathered along the way:

1.      Always be both open and consistent with your communication around change. Make sure you clearly explain the reasons behind the change, how it will affect the long-term goals and performance of the organisation, and what impact it will have on day-to-day work life. Make sure your team is kept up-to-date and inform them of any new developments.

2.      Acknowledge that change can be difficult to deal with, and be prepared to listen to people’s reservations and concerns. Staff are often nervous that there will no longer be a role for them or that they won’t be able to perform as well if their role changes, particularly if the change is financially motivated (ie. Cutbacks, re-structuring). Being able to see their place in the bigger picture is sometimes all it takes to change their outlook.

3.      Give staff the tools to see the change in a positive light. Focus on potential improvements and benefits and help them get a balanced perspective on the pros and cons of change.

4.      Be firm: Ultimately, it’s up to the individual to resist or embrace change, and if they insist on adopting a negative attitude, it can be damaging to your whole team. If you’ve tried all of the above and they still can’t get on board, it might be time for them to think about moving on…

What systems or policies do you use when managing change? How do you deal with team members that can’t/won’t get on board?

AIM VT has partnered with beyondblue to promote an important new research project and trial a new beyondblue online resource.

This resource is designed to equip organisational leaders with the knowledge and skills to promote a mentally healthy culture within their workplace.

If you’re a manager or leader and you’d like to take part, please click here  

Tony Gleeson