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Business Change, Transformation or new projects – How do you support your managers through this!?

01 December 2020

By Stuart Duffey

Business Change, Transformation or new projects – How do you support your managers through this!?

This year has been all about change, do things differently and coping with the uncertain. Across every sector in the UK managing / leading staff has never been more crucial.

Potentially faced with demands from above, uncertainty from below and disruption to their own personal circumstances, managers can be
hugely impacted by organisational change. However, the importance of providing them with the support they need to navigate these periods is all too often
overlooked.

A diverse and demanding role

Managers in an organisation undergoing change have a pivotal role to play, as they are required to simultaneously help the business, their
team and themselves navigate change successfully. Without managers, change could not happen, yet leading change is often cited as one of the most challenging elements of their role. Indeed, during periods of change, the manager may well have to operate successfully wearing many hats of diverse and demanding roles. They are the key agent for change, a communicator, a font of knowledge, a guide, an expert, a coach, a friend, a leader.

However, it is highly unlikely that any one individual will be accomplished in all of these guises. It is foolish but it happens that good managers are left to sink or swim during this difficult period.

Therefore, when building a plan for change, the support network available to managers should be integral. Consider the multiple challenges they will face and what support and additional skillsets they may require to succeed during change or transformation.

“Change is embraced differently by everyone”

Change, particularly where job-roles are affected, is without doubt deeply personal. Not everyone will react in a similar way. However well it is communicated, the same message is often interpreted differently by each individual. Some will exhibit positive characteristics, understand the rationale for change and see the opportunities it may bring; others will not understand or agree with the need for change and may become fearful, withdrawn and disengaged. During these periods of emotional challenge, employees will naturally look to their managers for direction and guidance.

As such, if a manager is to best support their team and the personalities within it, they need a deep understanding of how different
individuals can react to the news and the different behaviours they may exhibit as a result. They must also be able to recognise the signs of stress and
changed behaviours among their team and have access to support from colleagues, HR or even externally provided resource. It is also important to acknowledge
that managers themselves can be affected, as well as their teams. The role can be a lonely existence, especially when seeing the break-up of a team that has
taken months or years to build.

These sensitive times and complex interactions require empathy and emotional intelligence – traits that are not always in-built. Managers should not be put in these positions without the appropriate guidance and skills development in advance.

Effective coaching, whether in a one-to-one or team environment, can be beneficial to those affected by new developments and can often lead to significant, positive results. While many managers will have built up coaching skills, or possess them innately, further coaching skills development can be hugely beneficial to your management team. For thornier challenges, however, consider bringing in external coaches.

 Consistency in the message

Clarity and communication is integral to successful change. To make a successful transition from now to there, it is imperative that the desired end point and the proposed pathway to get there are effectively conveyed to the business. In order to communicate this message rather than increase the confusion, managers must understand the decision clearly and have direction on what they can and can’t say. With a deeper understanding of the situation and the reasons for a decision, they are better equipped to give a more authentic message to their teams and front-up effectively when questions are put to them. As a manager, being able to articulate the plan gives them the ability to build confidence within the team and allay any fears that people may have. While people may not agree with what is happening – they need to know the justifications and that it has been carefully thought through.

Individuals must see the future benefits of the new landscape. A strong vision that is something to aspire to rather than something to fear. Fully engaged managers can play a key role in helping to cascade the positive vision throughout the business.

Change is always a challenging balance between the human and structural impacts of the process and continuing to run a business or operation. No one feels this pressure more acutely than the management team which is often charged with ensuring that the strategy is turned into effective operational processes while dealing with the implications on staff. With the uncertainty of a major restructure it is natural to look inward, lose sight of the ‘day job’ and a fall in operational efficiency is a typical outcome. With change often requiring a reduction in head count and a stretch in individual responsibilitiestoo, there is genuine potential to see workload increase at a time of insecurity.

A fundamental role of the manager is to support their team through the challenges of change. But are enough organisations supporting them? All too often we see managers tasked with implementing and managing the impacts of change but left overloaded and ill-equipped for the process. With appropriate support, they can be the catalyst for positive change so make sure their needs are not overlooked.

For more information on Executive and career coaching across the Skills & Employability sector contact stuart@coynerecruitment.co.uk or call him on 07885802338.

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