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How to Empower Your Team to Face and Embrace Change at Work

February 23, 2021 Ashley Niven

The past year was an unexpected and challenging one for many, as we adjusted to a new world changed by crisis and deep uncertainty.

Employees transitioned to remote work, and balanced increased work pressures, family responsibilitieskeeping safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, financial loss and much more. 

Day after day, our environment evolved, and companies reassessed, adjusted strategiesand often thrived during truly unchartered times 

Now, as we enter a second year of remote work in an unprecedented health crisis, our teams continue to face many unknowns—and the risk of burnout is higher than ever, with 75% of employees reporting feeling the symptoms of burnout, and one in four women considering downshifting her career due to the stress of working and living during a pandemic.  

As leaders, it is our responsibility to equip our teams with the tactics, ideas and opportunities they need to continue to face—and embrace—times of change and transition. 

Here is how I think about this: When people ask me what my job is, I always lead with being a people manager first, despite what my role or responsibilities are. I believe my number one job is to support my employees and to personally lead with purpose.  

Over the past year, I have recommitted to this purpose and I have learned a lot about how to support my team on their own leadership journeys.  

Here are four tactics you can use to empower your team to deal with change at work:

1. Encourage your team members to readjust their perspective on opportunity.

Transition is daunting, scary, intimidatingbut change also allows us to learn something new, expand our skill sets, update processes, and work with new team members or departments.

During times of change and transition, our instinct may be to turn inward or become negative, or not understand why we are being asked to take on more or learn new tasks.  

As leaders, we can train our team members (and ourselves!) to approach change as an opportunity for growth and shift our overall mindset. When you do this, you become open and let the “more” flow in.  

Remember: Your employees will figure out the how if you give them the why. Answer their questions with transparency, give room for risk (and even for failure!), and let them know you are supporting them on their efforts, every step of the way. 

2. Empower your employees to lean on communityand help create that sense of belonging.

Consider the unique challenges of working in a remote world: Employees do not have the in-person opportunities to connect and problem solve, so leaders must take meaningful steps to create virtual opportunities for this type of collaboration.  

Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Partner more senior team members with junior members to have 1:1 checkins on personal life and work challenges 
  • Start meetings with “start, stopcontinue” exercise to make sure the plan you have set forth is working and immediately take action to coursecorrect based on the feedback you receive
  • Remember that a bonded team is always going to work harder to support your goals and company strategy. Make room for that fun with virtual coffee hours, birthday celebrationsand don’t forget lots of memes in your communications when appropriate. Work hard, play hard!

Create meaning out of chaos.

A former executive once told me that there is no greater compliment than when someone wants a member of your team to work for them. The best leaders empower their teams to operate at the highest levels, with each person’s unique talents and superpowers fully realized and utilized. 

But how? A truly Purposeful Leader defines purpose for their teams by giving them clarity on how their role connects to the broader mission of the organization.  

Leaders must set aside the time to translate their organization’s purpose into language their people can fully embrace, and they must define their team members roles and superpowers in relation to that purpose. As the strategy changes, so too does your communication of that strategy and the definition of your team members responsibilities.

4. Unleash potential by creating growth opportunity for employees.

Stretch assignments give employees opportunity to step into change in a way that gives them ownership and control. Egon Zehnder’s survey of 823 international executives found that 71% of senior leaders said stretch assignments had the biggest impact on unleashing their potential. Work with other managers at your company to see who needs help and what skills they are looking for. Each department can swap resources and set dedicated time for employees to engage with other teams outside of their day-to-day responsibilities. Now you have every department growing and expanding their reach, by giving other teams more resources to hit their targets. The employees will enjoy connecting with others and stay engaged as they shift into growth mindset. 

The Big Takeaway 

When times get tough, empower your employees to meaningfully reengage with the organization and their roles. Change and transition represent a key opportunity for you to step into purposeful leadership and help your teams ascend to new heights.

Leaders who do things for a purpose and with a purpose drive2x stronger revenue growth, 4x profit growth and 9x employee engagement. Linkage partners with leading companies to create lasting leadership impact by accelerating the development of purposeful leaders. Learn more about the Purposeful Leadership Signature Solution.

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