Line managers are critical in ensuring success when making a major organizational change. As we know, they have the greatest influence over employee behavior, and can play a particularly vital role in contextualizing change for their teams.
Both intuition and experience, though, tell us that that line managers aren’t always up to this task. Many simply aren’t strong communicators, and the turbulence of change can disrupt even those who are strong the rest of the time.
How does your organization prepare managers for the additional stress and difficulty brought on by change? Many communicators are so pushed for time that they simply rely upon managers to muddle through. Others provide manager training of varying quality, to help managers cope with the increased demand of navigating the change.
Assessing for change-readiness
Significantly fewer companies, however, formally assess how ready their managers are to lead the change before it all begins. Although everyone knows how important they’ll be, many organizations enter a period of change without a clear view of their managers’ strengths and weaknesses; often, it’s only as the change unfolds, or else retrospectively, that managers’ skill gaps become evident. Of course, by this stage, it’s too late – the damage is done!
Leading communicators work with change leaders to conduct change-readiness assessments in advance of any change initiatives. They get a feel for skill gaps before the event, leaving themselves time to close them via targeted training sessions.
- Core communication skills: managers need to be able to articulate and personalize change for their employees, enabling them to understand both the organizational and the individual implications
- Performance enablement: managers must create an environment of performance, removing unnecessary red tape, encouraging considered risk-taking, and helping employees to network with relevant peers
- Project management: managers must be able to help employees prioritize their workload, and to help them to anticipate and avoid potential challenges
- Encourage agility: managers need to empower employees, contextualizing the change by bringing strategically relevant information to their teams, and seeking practical feedback on how existing processes can be improved
Featured Resources From CEC
Of course, when you identify competency gaps, you’ll want to close them. The following resources from the CEC canon will help you to do so:
- Prepare managers for specific change events: enable experiential learning between managers (Nordea)
- Create manager self-awareness: make managers aware of how their actions can inhibit employee agility and decision making (GSK)
- Enable managers to hold dialogue: let managers take CEC’s E-Learning module to help them hold dialogue with their teams