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From Passive to Resilient — These 7 Strategies Will Empower Your Team to Thrive Through Change These seven change management strategies are key to smoothly implementing organizational transformations.

By Murali Nethi Edited by Micah Zimmerman

Key Takeaways

  • Communicate the need for change.
  • Involve employees in the process.

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Change is hard. Yet change is also necessary for organizations to adapt, evolve and stay relevant in today's dynamic world. However, change that is not managed effectively often leads to employee resistance. This resistance can sabotage even the best-intended transformations.

To successfully implement organizational change, leaders must utilize sound change management strategies. Change management is guiding an organization through transitioning from its current state to its desired future state. It involves preparing employees for changes, equipping them to adopt changes, and sustaining momentum to ensure they stick.

Let's explore some key change management strategies that can help organizations navigate transformations smoothly and minimize resistance from employees.

Related: Change Is a Team Sport — So Every Player Needs to Own It. Here's How to Get Everyone Involved.

1. Communicate the need for change

One of the biggest reasons change initiatives fail is a lack of open and frequent communication. Employees want - and need - to understand why change is happening, what will be changing, and how it will impact them. They also want their concerns to be heard. As such, over-communicating is crucial during times of transition.

Schedule regular updates to provide clarity and reassurance. Be transparent about both the challenges as well as opportunities change presents. Answer questions promptly and clearly. Communicate using multiple channels - email, one-on-ones, town halls, Yammer, etc. And encourage two-way dialogue so you can address issues as they arise. Consistent communication will help reduce uncertainty and build trust that you have employees' best interests in mind.

Related: How to Harness the Power of Change in Entrepreneurship

2. Involve employees in the process

People are much more willing to accept change when they feel they have a role in shaping it. Whenever possible, involve employees in envisioning and planning for change. Solicit feedback on proposed changes through surveys. Create cross-functional task forces to tackle issues and generate new ideas. You can also run pilot programs to test solutions before full implementation.

You can develop more creative and practical solutions by including employee perspectives and expertise. You'll also gain buy-in since staff had a hand in the process. Just provide regular updates on how their input was incorporated or why certain suggestions couldn't be adopted.

Related: How To Create a Work Culture Where Everyone Has A Voice

3. Provide support and training

Change requires adaptability that doesn't come naturally or easily for many. Supporting employees through the transition professionally and personally will go a long way toward smoother change adoption.

Offer dynamic, robust training and development opportunities to build new skills. Provide coaching or mentoring programs. Create flexible, temporary roles for those struggling so talent isn't lost. Make EAP (employee assistance programs) accessible for those needing additional support. Check in frequently through one-on-ones to address concerns promptly. Recognize efforts openly with appreciation to boost morale.

Caring, holistic support demonstrates that you value staff and want them to thrive - not just cope - through change. It fosters resilience and makes people more open to what may initially feel threatening or undesirable.

4. Leverage early adopters

While change can be difficult for the majority, there will always be a subset of 'early adopters' who readily embrace new ideas. Identify and engage this influential group from the get-go to help advocate for and model change behaviors.

Ask early adopters to actively participate in task forces or lead training sessions. Highlight their achievements and successes to showcase incentives for adopting change. Encourage them to serve as mentors and support systems for others struggling more. Provide a forum like Yammer where they can discuss benefits and troubleshoot together.

Tap into early adopters' contagious enthusiasm and expertise to ease others into changes at their own pace. Their buy-in gives social proof that change can be a good thing well worth adopting.

5. Align incentives and accountability

For change initiatives to be sustainable long-term, they need clear ties to organizational goals that people are measured and incentivized against. Connect change milestones to individual performance reviews and compensation metrics or evolve role responsibilities to drive new priorities.

Be sure goals are specific, measurable, and have reasonable timelines. Try tracking progress publicly to signal strategic focus and importance. Highlight role models who embody the evolving culture through reward and recognition programs. Address poorly aligned behaviors promptly with guidance and coaching before escalating to discipline.

6. Be patient and celebrate successes

Cultural change takes intentional effort sustained over months or even years. Expect some missteps and pushback as people grapple with adjusting to new paradigms and letting go of habits they're used to. Accept that change won't happen everywhere uniformly or on the same timeline for all.

Rather than punish what's not going perfectly right away, focus on praising even small accomplishments and steps in the desired direction. Frequently mark milestones achieved and share qualitative or quantitative results transparently across teams. Recognize that people want to feel successful and appreciated, not just chastised for falling short.

Gradual, sustained progress sustained by celebration builds momentum and affirmatively shapes new norms, which is the ultimate goal of any organizational change initiative.

7. Lead from the front

Above all, leaders must authentically role model change themselves. People will watch to see if new behaviors are genuinely endorsed from the top or just nice ideas imposed on others. Live an organization's evolving values in your own actions, decisions and communications and continually develop skills the change demands.

Related: A True Leader Doesn't Just Talk the Talk — They Walk the Walk. Here's How to Lead from the Front.

The conclusion

Ultimately, transformational change depends on leaders wholeheartedly embracing evolution both professionally and personally. Walking the talk consistently signals strategic importance and brings others along on the journey. With the right strategies and steadfast leadership, organizational change can empower continuous improvement.

If your retail organization wants to update your point-of-sale (POS) system to meet the needs of today's customers better and drive future growth, consider implementing Hana Retail as your solution. By thoughtfully managing organizational change, your employees will confidently adopt this retail POS system and leverage its full capabilities to propel your business forward.

Murali Nethi

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

CEO & Founder

Murali K. Nethi is the founder and CEO of SnapBlooms, a flower-delivery marketplace. His 24-plus-year background in enterprise architecture and IT allows him to explore business solutions in the retail industry.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

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