In Adaptability, Change Management


Adaptability isn’t just a nice-to-have skill for individuals; it is a critical competency for managers and leaders who are responsible for guiding their teams through change.

As a manager, you have many responsibilities: implementing change within tight timelines and to set objectives, supporting your team through the change journey and the upheaval that can cause, whilst also managing your own emotions and reactions to change. You’re not a robot after all – you can be impacted by change, just as much as your team members. And, whilst all this is happening, you need to manage expectations of senior leaders and ensure day-to-day business as usual operations continue seamlessly.

That is a lot of plates to keep spinning. There is a lot of pressure on managers and the fact is that your approach to change and how you deal with change, has the greatest influence on how your team will respond to change. As a manager, you are a cornerstone in the change process, maintaining constant contact with your team throughout this journey. While project delivery teams focus on tasks and tangible deliverables like new systems or processes, and change teams do what they can to build change readiness and prepare people for change, they cannot be everywhere to support everyone. As a manager, you are the one who understands your team members the best; their strengths and weaknesses. You are the one that sees them the most and you understand the position they are in and the change challenges they face.

And as we know, the completion of a project or the implementation of a change does not automatically mean that this change has been adopted and integrated into daily practice. It takes time and dedicated effort for new practices to become embedded and the ‘new normal’. As the manager, you are closest to your team members during this critical transition period. While project teams move on to new tasks, you remain the consistent support, hand holding and guiding your team through this period, until the team become more familiar and comfortable with the new way of doing things. Your presence and guidance are crucial in making the new ways of working not just accepted but ingrained as ‘how we do things around here.’

So, with all these plates spinning how can you enable your colleagues, employees or team members to become ready, willing, and able to embrace change? Here are some useful pointers:

1. Lead by example

Leadership is about creating the right environment for your team and organisation. Demonstrating your own readiness to embrace change is the first step in inspiring others to do the same. Share your enthusiasm for new initiatives, openly discuss your own learning experiences and be transparent about your journey and challenges you have experienced in adapting to change.

2. Communicate effectively

Clear and transparent communication is crucial when introducing change. Start by explaining why the change is necessary and how it aligns with the organisation’s goals. Address any concerns and questions and keep the lines of communication open throughout the change process. Timely and honest updates help alleviate uncertainty.

3. Create a safe space

Change can be intimidating, and individuals may fear making mistakes or facing criticism. Create a safe and supportive environment where people feel comfortable sharing their thoughts, concerns, and ideas without judgment. Encourage open dialogue and be receptive to feedback.

4. Provide resources and training

Ensure that your team has access to the necessary resources and training to build the skills and knowledge required to succeed in the new environment. Offering workshops, courses or access to relevant materials demonstrates your commitment to their development.

5. Empower decision-making

Allow individuals to have a say in the change process. Encourage them to participate in decision-making whenever possible. When people feel their input is valued, they become more invested in the success of the change initiative.

6. Set clear goals and milestones

Establish clear objectives and milestones that help measure progress. This provides a sense of direction and achievement, helping individuals see how their efforts contribute to the larger picture.

7. Recognise and reward progress

Acknowledge and celebrate achievements along the way. Recognising and rewarding the efforts of those who embrace change encourages others to follow suit. Highlighting success stories and showcasing the benefits of change can be powerful motivators.

8. Offer support and coaching

Provide support through mentoring or coaching for individuals who may struggle with adapting to change. Tailor your guidance to their specific needs and challenges, helping them build confidence and resilience.

9. Be patient

Change takes time, and not everyone will embrace it immediately. Be patient and empathetic, understanding that people have different paces for adaptation. Encourage perseverance and provide ongoing support. Consider the change journey for someone else, step into their shoes, and ‘meet them at their bus stop’.

10. Evaluate and adjust

Regularly assess the progress of the change initiative. Collect feedback, evaluate outcomes and be willing to adjust the approach if necessary. Continuous improvement is essential for ensuring the success of the change and the satisfaction of your team.

So, as you go about spinning these plates, remember to occasionally step back and appreciate the progress you’re making. You’re not just ensuring that the plates of project delivery, team support, personal adaptation and stakeholder management stay in line; you’re also choreographing a performance that leads to growth, innovation, and success. While there’s no magic trick to perfect this act, the pointers discussed offer a strong foundation. Like any good show, it’s about practice, patience, and persistence. After all, managing change might feel like a circus at times, but with the right approach, it’s one where everyone, including you, can truly thrive and grow.

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