5 Ways You Can Help Your Team Cope With Change

While our clients had great success using our Six Sigma methodologies over the years, I’ll be frank, the start was not always easy. And I have to tell you that it’s actually not so much about the cost, because once the program had been implemented, the ROI is almost always positive.
No, one of the biggest fears my clients have before engaging us, is whether their people can cope with the impending change. As you know, Six Sigma is known for its effectiveness in the areas of:
  • Process improvement
  • Cost reduction
  • Time reduction
  • Redundancy eliminations
  • Workforce optimization
  • Product and service quality
  • And more
Often, employees looked at those results, and one of the first things that came to their mind was their job security - how can they be sure that after the implementation of the changes, they will still have a job?
Truth is, you and I know that change is the only constant in this world, whether it’s business or personal and the better we can cope with change, the more successful we will be in our endeavors. Of course, as leaders, we know and embrace that. The challenge is to get our team to do the same too.
Which is what today’s article is about. Prior to any engagement, sometimes we will work with the leaders and management team to “ground” them, to get them prepared. These are some of the content taken from the training module, and I hope it will help you groom a resilient team, just like how it has helped my other clients.

#1. Vision Casting

Communication is an integral job of any good leader and the ability to cast a team vision ensures that everyone will be on the same page. You see, sometimes our subordinates are too focused on task execution, causing them to miss out on the big picture. That’s why it’s crucial for leaders to help them take a step back or two from their “silo-ed” view and have a further, broader view of the overall operations.
Using metaphors, parables and analogies here are useful, because nothing paints a better picture than stories. Remind them of how far they have come, their previous challenges and their victories. Show them the roadmap and be realistic, because at the end of the day, it’s all about deliverables and numbers. Reaffirm them that if everyone puts effort in their own work, then the big, completed piece of jigsaw puzzle will be a marvel to look at.


#2. Look for Advocates

In any team, there are bound to be a few members who are more supportive of transformation initiatives, more influential among the group and more adaptable in their approach. Enroll them to be your advocates for the change. Work with them and empower their influence, so that they can help to cascade your vision.
Leadership by example is tried and true and having these champions of change on your side will mean it’s easier to get the buy-in from the other team members. Advocates are also critical during times of crisis, because when you’re overwhelmed by leadership decisions, your second-in-command can help you keep the team on track.

#3. Frequent Updates & Celebrate Victories

I usually recommend the leaders in my programs to practice regular updates, leveraging on modern communication technology if they have to. Sometimes after the vision casting, your staff will go back to their own little worlds to execute their tasks, which is nothing wrong, because it is their job. However, as their vision narrowed to focus on their executions, they may lose grasp on the big picture again.
Having regular updates act as a reminder for them, their occasional escape from the blinds that might have limited their view, a chance to look at the great, glorious vision again. Also, a good suggestion here is to celebrate the victories, even if they are small. Once a milestone is hit, or when a KPI is met, celebrate it. Give them a pat on the pack, buy them a round of surprise tea snacks, congratulate them in front of other departments. This will only motivate them more and solidify their loyalty to the vision.

#4. Train on Adversity and Adaptability

Another good idea I usually passed along to the managers during the weekly updates, is to look for content that can help train their staff on adversity and adaptability. Movie clips, short stories and motivation speeches work as external reinforcements, and help them see things from different perspectives.
During the weekly updates (or huddles if your company practices that), craft out a few minutes for this uplifting content. Solicit feedback from them, ask coaching questions, help them connect the learning points if you have to. Change can be an uphill battle and you will need all the help you can get.

#5. Listen and Observe

Having a pulse on your team and the situation is critical for your success as a leader. Watch out for changes and signs and if you spot any gossip brewing, it’s best to address and eliminate it in the beginning. It's also a good idea to enlist the help of your advocates to be your eyes and ears too.
Feedback is also crucial when it comes to helping your team cope with change optimistically. They need to know what they did wrong so it can be corrected and what they have done right so the behavior can be reinforced. Coach and mentor them when it is appropriate, before resorting to instructing them. Often, if you give your team a chance to speak up, you will be amazed at their resourcefulness.


“Adaptability is about the powerful difference between adapting to cope and adapting to win.”
- Max McKeown
An effective team is one that is versatile to the market conditions, adaptive to the feedback and welcomes change. Luckily, embracing change is also a mindset, an attitude that you can cultivate in your team. I hope these powerful tips have given you some ideas on how you can better work with your team and gear them up for the positive changes to come.