5 Qualities of Talented People Managers – Quality #5

This is the 5th in a series of 5 posts about the qualities of talented people managers.  In review, the other 4 qualities were:  (1) Have a manager mindset; (2) Build relationships with direct reports; (3) Possess Emotional Intelligence; and (4) Coach their teams.


Quality #5 – Is an Agent for Change

I feel like the term “change agent” is quite the buzzword these days.  Senior leaders will tell you that they expect the organization’s front-line leaders to be change agents.  Most of the time I think what they mean is that they want these leaders to blindly show support for their ideas and get their team on board with the change.  This is especially true when those ideas are somewhat controversial among the employees. 

Showing support for the ideas of senior leaders is just one of the things that should be expected from a true change agent.  Here are some of the things that talented people managers do in the face of change to be effective change agents:

  1. Ignite excitement about change. From the time the change is introduced, they talk about change in a way that gets everyone’s commitment.
    1. Introduction – the most important part is explaining the rationale so that people understand the reason that change is occurring. Be clear that the change is going to happen.  Then get people involved quickly to build commitment. 
    2. Exploration – get ideas on ways to adapt to and implement the change quickly and effectively.
    3. Overcome resistance – have open discussions about any concerns, involve people to overcome barriers that keep them from accepting the change, and work towards gaining commitment to the change.
  2. Show the positive opportunities that change brings. They begin discussions by focusing on the things that the team has control over in the change process. Then the team can focus on looking at the change in terms of what potential gains there can be for their team and the organization. 
  3. Create an environment that rewards process improvement suggestions. They motivate the team by offering up incentives for those that get involved and act to make positive moves towards the change. 
  4. Help individuals overcome resistance. Talented people managers know that change occurs at the individual level.  For change to happen, you must affect change one person at a time.  People need to be reassured that their feelings during each phase are normal and natural.  These managers don’t talk people out of their feelings, but instead help them adapt in their own way. 

Talented people managers help their team understand that change must happen for the business to be competitive and thrive.  Organizations that are change-adverse will stagnate, allowing competitors to overtake them.  And, yes, sometimes the organization initiates a change that they later determine was not the right course of action and are forced to regroup and try again.  Hopefully, they are using data to make decisions on which changes are the right ones for them to make.  This makes communicating the reason behind the change a little easier when there is a rationale for it.    

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