Every change begins with a leadership decision. Making the decision to institute changes is not always easy. Being prepared, planning well, and being surrounded by a good team will make that decision a lot easier.
Preparing and Planning
Begin by putting yourself in a positive frame of mind. You are likely to experience higher than normal levels of stress and knowing this beforehand will give you the ability to be prepared mentally and physically. You will be the anchorperson and the foundation, and with your steady hand will guide your team through the stressful events. Be a reassuring and active force throughout the whole process.
It is impossible to prepare for every contingency, but planning for the known is a must. Add time or extra room to the schedule for the unknowns. When you encounter an unexpected event your schedule should not be put off by much if you have built in some leeway. It will provide that buffer that gives you and your team the ability to deal with the unknowns and keep rolling with the change process.
Surround yourself with people that you can delegate to and be confident in their abilities and skills. Be precise and specific with your directions as when the change process begins you will be depending on these individuals and their talents. Communicating and providing feedback are the keys to successful delegation; make sure your team understands this. If communication fails or there is not accurate feedback the chances of a success are lessened.
An issue that sometimes arises when delegating is micro-managing. Keep an eye out to not micro-manage as you can quickly lose track of events and it will take time away from your main duties. Delegating is a skill that takes time as you must first learn the strengths and weakness of your team and know what tasks you can and cannot hand out. It may not be possible to always delegate, but when it can be done it will provide a great resource.
Keep the Lines of Communication Open
Always be available during the change process. Before the change prepare your friends and family that you may not be available for social events. Reassure your team that you are there for them and you are here to provide them with the necessary resources to lead them through the change. Stress to them that you are available and focused on keeping the communications lines open.
Always be aware of rumors, they will happen before, during and after the change. Do not ignore any rumor, put out honest and clear communication as soon as possible. Reassure your team that if they hear a rumor to seek out more information from a reliable source. Remind them that spreading rumors help no one and will cause more harm than good.
Coping with Push-back
Not everyone will agree on the change. Keep in mind that these types of feelings are normal as people generally do not enjoy change and are sometimes made nervous by it. You will likely encounter push-back and resistance by a number of team members. Provide facts and data to show why the change is happening and reassure them the need and benefits of the change. These types of individuals are best suited to be educated about the change with information.
If you are encountering an extreme case of push-back, provide them with some choices that still fall within the spectrum of the intended change. They should then feel more involved in the process and it will help alleviate the negative mindset they may be experiencing.