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Change Leadership: The Do’s and Dont’s for Success

It is hard to remember a time when organisational change wasn’t a constant presence in our lives. We have had to navigate a pandemic, adjust to hybrid work practices, and manage in a challenging economic period. In addition, workplaces are now also grappling with the ever-evolving challenges brought by changing technology and artificial intelligence. It is likely that we need to move on from the need to reassert stability and certainty, to finding ways to thrive in this new, changing world. Without change, there can be no growth, learning, or improvement but constant instability and ambiguity can become counter-productive. Our brains are simply not wired to cope well with uncertainty. As a result, change fatigue, disengagement, and poor morale can creep in and significantly undermine the potential growth and positive benefits of change.

The good news is that, when change is managed well, the potential effects of continuous uncertainty can be largely mitigated and resilience to an uncertain environment can be cultivated. While the world around us continuously changes, our human need for connection, safety, and predictability remains constant. This means that there are some long-held truths leaders can rely on to manage change effectively.


  1. Plan for Change Early: Appointing a change manager at the same time as a project manager will increase change adaption and success. So often organisations under-resource and underestimate the need to plan ahead and provide support, often only realising when it is too late, that people are not on board. Anticipate peoples’ concerns – even better, ask them what their concerns might be – and then address them with open and transparent information that shows strong connection to their concerns. Involve them in the planning and the activities associated with the change plan.
  2. Communicate Transparently and Frequently: Open and honest communication is paramount during times of organisational change. While leaders and managers may not always have immediate answers themselves, it is important that they share as much information about the change as possible. Frequent updates that ensure clarity about the reasons for the change, its potential impact, and expected timeframes, are key. And when there is nothing new to communicate…let people know this! In the absence of information and updates people will assume the worst.
  3. Involve People: Provide clarity around the parameters of change so people understand what the negotiable and non-negotiable changes are – then actively include them in the decision-making processes that shape the negotiable aspects of the change. Consistently engaging staff in the change process by seeking their input, ideas, and feedback ensures that communication is a two-way dialogue that fosters a sense of inclusion, understanding, and ownership.
  4. Offer Support and Resources: Offer adequate support and resources to help people navigate the transition and adapt to new ways of operating. This may include training programs, coaching sessions, or access to relevant tools and information. Address any concerns or challenges proactively and offer assistance to those experiencing stress and uncertainty.
  5. Lead by Example: Teams are strongly influenced by how their leaders respond to change. If leaders demonstrate a willingness to embrace change with resilience and empathy, staff are far more likely to respond in the same way. If leaders are negative or unknowing about the change, staff will question the need for the change or openly resist it by arguing against the need for change.
  6. Celebrate Milestones: Acknowledge and celebrate milestones and achievements throughout the change process. Use quick wins to maintain a sense of progress and achievement. Recognise individual and team effort and celebrate progress toward the desired outcomes. Celebrating successes boosts morale, reinforces commitment, increases resilience, and motivates people to stay engaged and focused.


  1. Underestimate or misinterpret resistance: Resistance to change is a natural psychological response and, if met with empathy and understanding, is far more likely to result in acceptance of the change. It is important to acknowledge that change can be met with apprehension, scepticism, or fear, and to be prepared to address concerns openly. Ignoring, dismissing, or responding angrily to resistance can lead to increased tension and mistrust, and hinder progress. Along side this we must not mis-interpret resistance as poor intent, a lack of commitment or low capability – it is typically none of these things, yet we often subscribe these descriptors to resisters! Instead, address their concerns and turn them into advocates.
  2. Micro-manage: Avoid micro-managing others during times of change. As their own uncertainties kick in, it is not unusual for leaders to seek a renewed sense of control and stability by becoming overly demanding or controlling of tasks. Instead, it is important to provide clear expectations, guidance, and support, and then trust others to take ownership of their responsibilities within the new context.
  3. Neglect training and development: Training and development initiatives can be a great source of empowerment and support during organisational change. Investing in relevant skills development programs ensures that people have the knowledge and capabilities to thrive in their evolving roles. Neglecting training can lead to frustration, decreased productivity, and resistance to change. Training in change and the human transition during change can also be very beneficial.
  4. Dismiss feedback: Take the time to listen actively, validate the experiences and perspectives of others, and address any issues or misconceptions constructively. Incorporating feedback into decision-making processes demonstrates respect and fosters trust and collaboration.
  5. Expect immediate results: Understand that organisational change takes time and patience. Avoid expecting immediate results or quick fixes. Instead, focus on progress not perfection, and continuous improvement by setting realistic expectations. Leaders need to continuously reinforce the long-term vision for the organisation to inspire commitment and perseverance while helping staff focus on the immediate priorities.

Organisational change can be challenging but, with the right approach, it can also be a catalyst for growth, innovation, and success. With a proactive and empathic approach, organisations can embrace change as an opportunity for positive transformation and advancement.

About the author

TMS Consulting