Managing Through Change

Change is constant. In the workplace, teams look to management to help them navigate employee transitions, practice disruptions, and internal and external policy changes. How you handle change can set you apart as a leader.

In the ASHA Leadership Academy webinar "Change Leadership," Kevin Nourse and Alice Waagen describe the necessary competencies of a change leader, which include:

  • Creativity: Creating new approaches to problems, challenging assumptions that block creativity, and encouraging innovation in others
  • Empathy: Reading the emotional temperature of a group and adapting strategies to address its needs
  • Flexibility: Remaining open and adaptable to new information or options, as well as reacting productively to unexpected roadblocks
  • Resiliency: Effectively coping with and learning from setbacks
  • Strategic Thinking: Identifying strategic opportunities and trends and translating those opportunities into plans, decisions, and action
  • Vision: Creating compelling visions for a future state that excites and engages stakeholders

Using these competencies will allow you to navigate the stages of change (loss, doubt, discomfort, discovery, understanding, and integration) with grace and poise. While it's often a challenge for any leader to be a master of all of these competencies, these steps are a good place to start:

Embrace it. Change happens.

Not everyone is comfortable with it, and ignoring the elephant in the room can cause stress and tension for you and your staff. Does the new change present an opportunity or does it require you to make tough choices? Change can be positive or negative, so acknowledge where you are. You and your team may be mourning the loss of the status quo or adjusting to innovation that has created a new normal. Being clear about the type of change you are experiencing can help you accept it.

Communicate, clearly and often.

Effective communication can help ease the doubt and discomfort that change creates. Many of us have been in situations where we were not given any or enough information, and the failure to communicate can cause additional negativity and resentment in the workplace. As a leader, it's important to give updates and clearly communicate. Avoid being overly vague, and if there is no new information, say so. The goal is to establish trust so you can get—and stay—on the same page as your team.

Set goals, but be flexible.

It's best to keep moving forward when transitioning through the stages of change. Set goals and milestones for understanding your new circumstances and how they will affect your organization and team. This will help you feel more oriented as you move toward integration. Along the way, there will be a number of unknowns, so it's important to be agile and adapt. Change is cyclical, so move with it.

Learn more about your change-leadership style and how to build a change framework by viewing the 1-hour Change Leadership webinar from the ASHA Leadership Academy.