Learning to manage change is a critical skill for supervisors. Supervisors juggle the responsibilities of learning and implementing new tasks with their employees while managing their own reactions to those modifications. At the same time, they are addressing their subordinate’s concerns and possible resistance to change.
Supervisory Approaches to Dealing with Change
- Honor the past by giving it proper credit, while also showing people why change is needed and what specific changes are required. Employees are more receptive to change when they understand the logic behind it. Help workers to see the big picture along with their role in the change.
- Ask for reactions, thereby creating an atmosphere of openness. Employees need accurate information and an opportunity to ask questions and receive answers. It also allows workers to feel more involved in the change, thus increasing their support.
- Clear up misunderstandings by taking time to educate and relate changes to the organization’s mission and values. Encourage communication by asking questions, listening and providing answers. If you don’t know an answer, commit to finding it and get back to the person quickly. If you cannot answer, be honest in stating that fact rather than deferring or avoiding the question.
- Deal with resistance. Resistance often is rooted in lack of understanding and when a change is upsetting the status quo. Encourage the use of strengths, and ask for ideas on how to make the change go smoothly, which will give subordinates a personal responsibility to solutions. People often will support what they helped to create. Keep in mind that they may have ideas you hadn’t thought of so give credit where credit is due.
- Ask for, do not demand, support and commitment to change. Commitment energizes, empowers, and deepens one’s sense of self-worth. Be sure to model your own commitment, and lead by example through showing your focus, drive and dedication.
- Follow through by monitoring the plan and reinforcing progress by looking for tangible improvements to show results. When feasible, celebrate people, reward change, and show how these resources come together to obtain great success.