Change processes: This is how teams cope with change

Changes are unavoidable in business, but the word “change” usually causes discomfort at first. Here you can find out why this is the case and how managers can still safely navigate their teams through change processes.

Mavie editorial team01/12/2023

Change Prozesse

Change processes always go to the nitty-gritty of the structure and culture in a company - they affect many, if not all, of the team. It's often not just about little things, but about real, often radical changes. So it's not something that everyone automatically cheers about - on the contrary: the phases of change are like an emotional high show.

The phases of change

Diffuse premonitions are usually followed by a concrete shock as soon as plans for change are announced. Accompanied by the reflex to be against it just to be on the safe side. Because we humans are fundamentally troublemakers? No! Anticipatory skepticism towards new things has been our life insurance for millions of years. That's why even when changes are obviously sensible, we need time before we can 1. accept them rationally, then 2. accept them emotionally, 3. slowly open up to them and finally 4. integrate them into everyday work.

Rule number 1: Communicate transparently

If you as a manager always keep these phases in mind, a lot has already been achieved. The rest can be controlled primarily through good communication. Because the most direct path to opening up to change is the openness of leadership. Address questions that concern your employees deep down: “Will I lose my job?”; “When will we finally have clarity?”; “What role will I play in the future?” Use every opportunity that arises in change processes to increase confidence in success: within yourself and your team.

Take supportive and critical voices seriously

Your most important allies for any change process are the change optimists - they can be valuable supporters in bringing more reserved characters along on the journey together. The contribution of the skeptical voices is also valuable for the bigger picture: As a manager, never react with irritation if you are confronted with fears from employees, but rather acknowledge critical contributions as quality management of the future - which, as we all know, can never begin soon enough. Don't allow people who are (often justifiably) worried to be devalued in the team as "progress resisters" - they often come up with aspects that later turn out to be worthwhile to take into account.

Short formula for successful leadership

You can also remember ALA as a shorthand for successful leadership in challenging phases of change.

Acceptance. When new framework conditions are unavoidable, there are only two decisions - either accept them or draw the personal consequences. As a manager, you neither have to justify yourself for higher-level decisions in the company, nor should you permanently tolerate the complaining of team members that essentially says: “Everything used to be better.”

Loyalty. As a manager, you are not the postman for the decision-makers. Always ask yourself, what do you need to follow the new company path? Maybe an explanation from your boss? Maybe a pause for reflection and a new commitment to the changed situation? This openness is loyalty to the employer.

Authenticity. Stay true to yourself during the change process! Before you put on a fake smile, use phrases and lose all trust with your employees, be honest and say what challenges you too. At the same time, make it clear that you have decided to support the change, to continue working for the company, and that you accept new conditions. This is the best role model in uncertain times and helps ensure that a change process ultimately succeeds.

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