Smooth Moves: How to Help Your Team Adjust to Change in the Workplace


Managing change is a key leadership skill. Here are ways to help your employees adjust during times of transition.

Chances are your staff have a skeptical view of change in the workplace. Not everyone embraces it, especially when it’s not managed properly. Less than half (45 percent) of creative professionals surveyed for the Creative Team of the Future project said changes at their organizations are carefully considered and well planned. And the majority (53 percent) feel they should be more involved in implementing changes.

These changes may not come easy. Respondents cited adopting new protocols and procedures as the hardest shift to make, followed closely by adjusting to staffing changes, such as reorganizations and layoffs.

The bigger the transition, the more you should prepare your employees. Otherwise your workers could become disgruntled, and your top creatives may start planning their exit. Here are five tips for helping your team adapt to change in the workplace:

1. Keep employees in the loop. Unless it’s a bonus or an extra vacation day, nobody likes workplace surprises. A good way to unsettle employees is to keep them in the dark until a change is already underway. So, whenever possible, give people a heads-up about what’s coming. For example, if the company is transitioning from on-premise software to a cloud-based subscription, employees shouldn’t first find out about the transition when they boot up their computers on Monday morning. A better approach is to involve all users in the planning and implementation stages – whether a change involves new technology, processes or people.

2. For buy-in, invite feedback. Your creative employees want to feel that their ideas have value, and 64 percent of survey respondents said they believe management is open to different proposals and opinions. So welcome your team’s input. If the department needs an additional copywriter, ask for suggestions on what background and experience the ideal candidate should have. Then involve some employees in the interview process.

The same advice applies when you have to reduce staff or someone resigns. Answer employees’ questions as well as you can. Then ask for your team’s suggestions on how to handle important projects and clients, and listen to the team’s feedback on possible next steps.

3. Lead by example. Whatever change is happening in the workplace, let your team know that you’re all in it together. Be upbeat and positive about the transition. If you’re unenthusiastic, your staff will pick up on that and follow suit. Even if the shift is the result of bad news, such as the loss of a major client, you should set an optimistic tone so employees don’t lose morale. If some team members have a hard time adjusting to the change, talk to them one on one and take their concerns seriously.

4. Set employees up for success. Only half of creative professionals surveyed for the Creative Team of the Future project said they get the information they need to keep up with the industry. When workplace changes come as a result of growing business, make sure employees have the training to tackle the new challenges. For example, if your agency is expanding its services to include social media management, send your staff to relevant workshops or courses so they’re prepared for their new responsibilities. If necessary, hire new employees or bring in freelancers to help with the overflow.

5. Share ownership. You don’t need to carry the entire burden of change yourself. Say your agency has been acquired by another firm, and the new management wants to add corporate clients to your roster of nonprofit organizations. You manage a team of creative professionals, so have everyone start brainstorming about how to make this transition. The more employees can contribute to the changeover, the more in control they will feel.

Change in the workplace is inevitable, and helping creative professionals navigate through it is an important part of being an effective manager. When you approach transitions with a positive attitude and honest communication, both your team and your organization can benefit and grow.

This article was originally published on HOW.

Related post: How Well Do You Cope with Change in the Workplace?