5 steps to engage your team to embrace change

Claudia Peixoto
August 20, 2021

Have you had to learn how to navigate the current Coronavirus crisis while keeping your team engaged and embracing the change?  

Well, the good news is, you are not alone.  

If like most of us, you have had to put all your planned changes on hold just so that you could navigate a whole of world chaos that none of us expected or anticipated. It is time to use what we have learned and some new stuff as we prepare to better implement all that “BAU Change” we still need to get done.

Here are some tips shared by Leanne Robinson and Daniel Panozzo, Co-founders and Directors of Aspen Solutions.

1. Adopt a change framework

Aspen Solutions created their change framework model. It is based on four main processes:

  • Define - Set a solid foundation by identifying the vision, the capability and the players that are going to be part of this change.
  • Develop - Create and then execute your change management plans for your project.
  • Deliver - At this stage you should start assessing and then reinforcing the change as you implement it.
  • Direction - Finally, you will ensure that there's really good governance across your change landscape, making sure that the change program is identified with key learnings and successes.

2. Find a sponsor and their coalition of leaders

A change needs to have the support right from the top for everyone in the organization to buy into it. That said, some of the biggest elements when creating a foundation for change is finding your sponsor and a coalition contribution, and engaging your teams.  

Sponsors need to be able to create a coalition of leaders. This means you need to have someone who is influential enough and has the backing and buy-in from all the leadership group. The last thing you want is an organization where you have pockets of resistance, led by leaders who are opposing the change behind closed doors.

3. Have a dedicated change manager

This person will be able to guide the sponsor and the coalition of how to manage that change successfully. Here are the four pieces of this puzzle:

  • The sponsor takes the lead in building and maintaining a healthy coalition of leaders who can support the change.
  • Employees want to hear about the change from two key people in the organization: their direct manager for day-to-day functions and duties, and a leader at the top for vision and directive.
  • Active and visible participation from sponsors is required across the entire change journey to ensure consistency of messages.
  • An effective sponsor legitimises the need for change and is the preferred sender of comms about the business’ need for change, and risks of not changing.  

4. Identify stages and select an appropriate strategy

The Kubler-Ross Curve was originally designed around the various stages of grief, but over time it was adapted for business purposes. Some people can go through those feelings and emotions very quickly and seamlessly in a matter of minutes, but sometimes that can be a longer process depending on the changes and its significance to the person.

It is important to note that this journey is not always linear, as people can “swing” back and forth across the curve. The good news is there are some strategies you can use in each stage.

  • Create alignment  - This is critical to the “Denial” stage. Your team needs to understand why they are doing this, what does this change mean and how this impacts the organisation. You need that “all in this together” feeling.
  • Maximise communication - This is when you see people moving into the “Frustration” stage. In the absence of information, people will make up their own stories. So, it is important that we give them all the facts and make sure that they know exactly what this change means.
  • Develop Capability - When you feel that people disengaged and have a lack of energy, they are moving into the “Depression” stage. This is where people need to know what these changes look like, what does it mean and how are they going to make these changes happen. After that, they should be able to move to “Experiment,” which is the initial engagement with the new situation.
  • Share Knowledge - By the “Decision” stage, your team will start to learn how to work in the new situation or environment and will automatically feel more positive. This is when you need to start to share knowledge. At this point it is important to start choosing who will become your change advocates, so they can start sharing what they have learned with others and help them to move through the curve. It is also about celebrating and recognising the wins at this point.

5. Build blocks for successful change

As a leader, there are some essential building blocks that you can implement to help to support successful change. People look around them to get their beliefs and actions influenced. Your team will be looking to you as their leader - and to your sponsor and coalition of leaders - to fostering their understanding and conviction.  

Here are some things you can do to change mindsets and behaviours:

  • Role Modelling - “I see my leaders, colleagues and staff behaving differently.”  
  • Fostering understanding and conviction - “I understand what is being asked of me and it makes sense.” That way, people will get more inclined to get on board.  
  • Reinforcing with formal mechanisms - “I see that structures, processes and systems support the change I’m being asked to make”
  • Developing talent and skills - “I have the skills and opportunities to behave in the new way.”

Watch the full webinar:

About the speakers:

Daniel Panozzo is Co-Founder and Director at Aspen Solutions.  

Daniel is an engaging and professional public speaker, host and facilitator. He delivers training events, workshops and seminars. He’s passionate about sharing the knowledge and navigating people and organisations through transition, change and turmoil.

Leanne Robinson is Co-Founder and Director at Aspen Solutions.

She is passionate about building resilience, agility and capability in people through times of change. Leanne is an experienced Change Manager, Six Seconds Emotional Intelligence Practitioner, Trainer and Coach, and works with individuals and teams to create purpose and values driven cultures.