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Dulling the Noise: Skills Leaders Should Employ to Calm the Chaos—Part 1

When the world is in a state of constant change, it’s up to leaders to calm the chaos through effective change facilitation. Effective change facilitation is critical to successfully navigating change – no matter if it’s a pandemic, hyper-growth, or a culture shift you’re moving through. Managers and HR must serve as change agents, helping to articulate the ‘what’ and ‘why’ around specific organizational changes as well as the vision for the outcome. Change is not a moment, but a series of moments, and managers play a role throughout the journey.

Change is defined as: to make something different from what it is, or from what it would be if left alone. And change makes management difficult because it…

• Is a process, not an event
• Is a highly personal experience for those involved
• Upsets our understanding of the reality of things
• Requires risk
• Demands new behaviors

Kubler-Ross change curve

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross defined a change curve that highlights the emotions involved in change and the impact change has on morale over time. So, if change is a process and a highly personal experience, how do you, as a manager, remove some of the emotion and calm the chaos?

• Manage your own responses to change. Having a high degree of emotional intelligence is important for any leader. In the midst of change, it’s imperative that managers build awareness of their emotions and the effect of their emotions on others while also building the ability to manage those emotions. Leaders who control their feelings create an atmosphere of fairness and trust.

• Acknowledge the feelings associated with the change and listen empathetically. We’ll talk more specifically about building empathy in a future post, but acknowledging the feelings of others follows the same emotional intelligence vein from earlier. Leaders with high social awareness and empathy see increased employee engagement and lower turnover.

• Welcome questions and feedback. As a manager, you shouldn’t shy away from answering questions from your team, especially when moving through an organizational shift. It’s okay if you don’t have all of the answers, it’s the importance of being available to your people that calms some of the chaos.

• Be available for coaching as your team members build new behaviors and capabilities. Coaching is all about expanding an individual’s capacity to change or take effective action. Coaching is impactful when you’re able to make a difference in helping others see their potential to change and helping them develop the skills necessary to achieve that potential. Coaching is critical when you need your team to shift behaviors or actions as part of change.

• Be optimistically honest. Transparency and direct communication are key in the midst of change and leaders are tasked with not only being change champions but messengers of the vision for the change. As a manager you should share needed information openly and in a timely manner. We suggest providing a regular forum for information sharing in addition to your cadenced 1:1 discussions.

When we say it’s an organizational change journey it’s not fluffy – the journey is filled with highs and lows, celebrations and losses. It’s your job as a leader and manager to facilitate change in a way that helps the organization and you move forward and navigate the highs and lows.

change facilitation

When you move through change, it’s important to acknowledge that the changes are for the positive – for you and the organization. They mitigate risk in the business and allow your organization to better compete in the market. They give you new tools in your tool belt when accomplishing your job and they offer everyone an opportunity to sign on for the journey. Leaders calm the chaos in the midst of change by being effective facilitators, removing the emotion, and painting a vision for the outcome that resonates with their people. Continue following our series on how to dull the noise and the skills to employ in doing so.

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