Preparing for Change

Colleagues brainstorm and organize ideas and plans on a chalkboard

The roles of managers and supervisors are vital for successful change at the university. Change management research identified employee resistance as the number one obstacle to change. An employee’s direct manager has the greatest influence on his or her engagement in the change process.

Similarly years of research from Gallup demonstrates the number one driver of employee engagement is the manager.Employees want to hear about change from their managers. They want to know why the change is happening, how it will impact them and what benefit it will have to them, the team and the university. From an employee’s perspective, the manager is one of the most trusted sources for information.

Why should managers spend time preparing for change? Change management skills are great tools that can be used both for a professional change you are experiencing or a personal change. They can help you grow and develop as a manager. But most importantly, employees are looking to managers to set an example as a great manager, coach and mentor. Leading change effectively sets this example.

Understand the Change

As a manager your first step is to fully understand the changes proposed as well as your role in managing those changes. You will need to ask questions and understand why the changes are being made, what the risk is if no change is made, and how this change will impact your team/unit.

Embrace the Change

Next you need to personally adapt to the changes being made. If you as the manager are not on board with the changes, you cannot lead change with your employees. Managers may have concerns or questions about the changes. Early on voice your concerns and ask thoughtful questions from a curious perspective. Leading change requires managers to be an advocate, coach and a role model.

Set the Tone

Lastly, as managers are preparing themselves to lead change, they need to understand what behaviors are important for them to exhibit. Managers must set an example when it comes to living Ohio State’s values. Often times with change, managers are leading into the unknown, they may not know the exact destination but strong managers will set the tone for how the team will get there. Managers should show employees that they’re prepared to embrace the change with them and will support them along the way. Managers need to communicate effectively, engage in two-way conversation, with their employees about change. They must coach their team through difficult transitions and lead individuals through the various stages of change and transition. Recognizing and understanding where each individual is on the change curve is an important part of a manager’s preparation for change.