By Bruce Tompkins
Partner, Tompkins International

Leading change is not easy. One of the difficulties is gaining support from staff members. Communicating the rational for change and repeating your message is important in order to gain staff support.

The first step is to begin on a positive note and be convinced yourself that the change is for the best.

  • The leader must have the courage to deliver bad news.
  • Given that people in general remember negative events best, the leader must be clear, concise, and communicate positives as well. Negative or critical comments become the focal point.

Leaders must acknowledge mistakes and accept accountability.

  • This builds trust as staff understands the notion that we cannot be right all of the time.

Ask questions, instead of orders.

  • This helps to engage staff and let them be a part of the change.
  • People do not like being ordered around, particularly when facing a major change.
  • Open communication and real conversations regarding the impacts of the change is necessary.

Praise and encouragement are keys to tackling change.

  • When giving praise, be genuine and sincere, deliver praise as soon as possible, make it specific, and do it publically if appropriate.
  • When communicating with staff during a change, provide encouraging words. Show that you believe in your staffs' capabilities and focus on what motivates them.

Expectations are challenging during a period of change.

  • Leaders must get people to believe they can change and chances are they will.
  • Give staff a reputation to live up to.

Leading change is difficult; it takes time, effort, and good communication. It is a learned skill therefore; improving your capabilities is possible. Most staff members want to do the right thing although, there are times staff needs a push in the right direction. If you fail in your attempt to lead a successful change, learn and try again.

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