Change: What can you do as a manager?

10. September 2019 / general
resilience

In my last blog (Link), I explained how people are affected by change. Today, I would like to tell you how you, as a manager, can successfully deal with transformation phases – including aspects that you must pay attention to and what you should avoid doing. The top tips are: Give employees time to process what it happening, listen to them, share as much information with them as possible, and make sure that what you say is clear and binding. You can never communicate enough during periods of change.

Before any change process, it is vital as a manager to be aware of the reaction that change triggers in people. It is only by understanding why employees react in a certain way that you can manage change processes effectively. As I explained in my last blog, most people who are confronted with any changes that they didn’t initiate themselves first experience a sense of shock and then show resistance, since they are simply worried about the consequences.

It is important to recognize that resistance can have many different guises. The German change management advisor Winfried Berner (who is interviewed in my next blog) describes the following responses as the most important demonstrations of resistance: Harsh rebuffs, long monologues, endless discussions, patronizing remarks, being difficult to contact, scheming, ambush attempts, explicit or implicit threats, etc. Hence, the responses range from open aggression (verbal or non-verbal) to passive resistance (verbal or non-verbal).

 

No change without resistance

There is no such thing as a change process without resistance. It has a protective function; people show resistance when they feel threatened to the core. Back in the Stone Age, people had three options if they came face to face with a saber-toothed tiger: Flight, fight or play dead. According to Berner, the patterns of behavior are identical today – albeit at a communicative rather than a physical level. This means that the way you communicate as a manager will determine whether or not you can successfully shape change processes.

 

Here is what you should not do:

 

Helpful approaches:

 

Patience, communication and inspiration are therefore the key ingredients of a successful change. And as food for thought, I would like to finish with a quote from Kaiser Wilhelm II, who was Germany’s last emperor and ruled until 1918: “If you want to change your country, change your town. If you want to change your town, change your street. If you want to change your street, change your house. If you want to change your house, change yourself.”

 

©  Claudia Kraaz

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