4 tips to help you lead change

11/08/2017 10:09 am ET

Change is hard. For some, change threatens to throw off the equilibrium that they’ve worked so hard to maintain. But change typically brings progress, especially in the healthcare industry. With advancements in technology and the delivery of patient care, change is commonplace. But that doesn’t mean people are comfortable with it.

For the majority of people, change is a struggle that brings uncertainty. Will this work? What does this mean for me? Will things get better or worse? It is much more comfortable living in the known, even if you are not happy with your current reality.

If you find yourself needing to lead others through change, follow these four tips to ensure a smoother process and a more successful outcome.

1. Clear communication

The old adage, “communication is key” continues to hold true when it comes to implementing any new process. When change comes about, many people get caught up with what is happening and lose sight of the reason why it is happening. Leaders should clearly communicate everyone’s role in the new initiative and articulate the benefits of the change. Connecting each individual to their impact on the project gives them personal accountability to see it through.

2. Be empathetic, not sympathetic

A silent threat that could easily sidetrack a leader during change management is sympathy. Good leaders genuinely care about their team members, making it difficult to see one struggle with change. It is a defining moment when leaders decide how to deal with team members’ concerns and whether they fall victim to sympathy.

When attempting to ease a team member’s concern about a new initiative, statements made by the leader such as, “I’m not too happy about it either,” or “This is something corporate is making us do, so…” communicates the message that he or she is not in support of the change, so why should the employee be? Instead, meeting resistance with “What can I do to help you?” lets employees know their leader is there to support them through the process and creates action to keep moving the project forward.

3. Work with those who are ready and eager

It’s easy to be drawn to people who are struggling with change, as they can be a significant barrier to progress. Leaders can focus an unnecessary and unproductive amount of time trying to align change-resistant or even negative mindsets with an initiative. This can derail a project’s momentum and create a toxic environment full of stress.

A more valuable way to achieve a successful implementation is for leaders to devote their efforts to working with those who are willing to do their part. Champions of change should be supported and exemplify personal accountability to the project.

4. Hold people accountable

Accountability is an important value to uphold when managing a team. Setting expectations and promoting personal accountability creates a culture of responsibility and ownership. Accountability can be a powerful motivator for people to perform, pushing the initiative forward and driving results.

Overcoming change is a process and requires new habits to align with organizational objectives. It takes thorough planning, and focused time and effort to implement a new initiative in a way that will deliver on the expected outcomes. Leaders play an exceptionally important role when implementing change in their organization. Strong leaders support and encourage their employees to adapt, knowing the organization will be stronger as a result.

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