Managing Change: 5 Critical Questions Leaders Must Answer

Webinars     Workshops      Articles

Managing Change: 5 Critical Questions Leaders Must Answer

Leaders gathered around a table
Share This Post:

Companies that try to implement a significant change are successful only about three times out of ten. Just let that statistic sink in for a moment. As a leader managing change, it’s clear the odds aren’t in your favor. We say this not to discourage you, but because it’s important to know what you’re up against. Once you acknowledge the difficulties, you can begin to address them so your initiative becomes one of the 30% that does succeed.

One of the biggest challenges leaders face in managing change is dealing with the uncertainty it produces.

The conventional wisdom is that many changes do not fail because of resistance. Yet we found that this is often not the case. Our recent survey found that most employees understand the need for change and believe people can overcome their fear of change. It seems to be less about resistance and more about employee uncertainty that derails change initiatives. Employees and even managers are reluctant to commit because they fear the unknowns. Leaders can help the rest of your workforce overcome this by clearly communicating and responding to concerns throughout the process.

Here are five critical questions you need to answer as a leader to build your team’s confidence before, during, and after the transition.

Recommended training from HRDQ-U

Reducing Uncertainty While Managing Change

1. Why Is This Change Necessary?

Most of us are naturally creatures of habit. Before your team members can begin to accept any change, they need to see the bigger picture. Be sure you have clearly articulated what your company aims to accomplish on a larger scale so that all employees understand why it’s so important.

2. What Will Each Person Be Expected to Do?

Taking the time to clearly define roles before, during, and after the transition will ease your staff’s concerns. This shouldn’t be a one-time discussion, but an ongoing conversation that evolves as new challenges or actions are identified.

3. Will We Be Able to Do It?

Change initiatives often fail because leaders fail to allocate appropriate resources to accomplish them, including funding and staff. When one new program after another is implemented, employees are left to decide which is more important when they only have the time or resources to complete one of them.

If the change will require an extra two hours of an employee’s time each week, be sure to account for this. You’ll need to determine what needs to be cut or done more efficiently to make up for the time this change requires.

4. How Will We Manage the Transition?

It’s important to identify key checkpoints and build in transition periods for them to occur. If a new department manager is taking the reins in two months as part of the change, be sure you’ve built in time for that person to meet with his or her predecessor and attend any necessary training. In addition, be sure to anticipate potential challenges (such as the new manager needing more time than expected to relocate) and have a plan in place to address them.

5. Where Are We in the Process?

Maintaining transparency is key to managing any change. Develop a shared project schedule all employees can access, and designate someone to keep it up to date. Plan regular meetings to discuss progress and upcoming deadlines, and ask your staff for feedback. Are they struggling in a particular area or worried about missing a deadline due to factors that may be outside their control?

Commit to staying on track, but build some flexibility into your project schedule so you can make adjustments as needed.

Taking the time to address these questions will keep the lines of communication open and reassure everyone you’re heading in the right direction.

Rick Lepsinger
Rick Lepsinger

Rick Lepsinger is President of OnPoint Consulting. Rick’s career has focused on helping organizations and leaders identify and develop leaders, work better virtually, enhance cross-functional team performance, and get from strategy to execution faster. He conducts numerous seminars and workshops on succession management, leading from a distance, leading cross-functional teams, and enhancing execution. Rick has written numerous articles and is the author or co-author of several books, including his most recent Closing the Execution Gap: How Great Leaders and Their Companies Get Results.

Connect with Rick on LinkedIn.

Recommended Training from HRDQ-U
Reducing Uncertainty While Managing Change

Reducing uncertainty is essential for successful organizational change. Learn what top-performing companies do to facilitate the change process.

More HRDQ-U Blog Posts
Related Topics
Career development
Career Development
Business coaching webinar
Creativity and innovation skills training
Creativity and Innovation
Webinar customer service
Customer Service
Managing Change: 5 Critical Questions Leaders Must Answer
Decision Making
Diversity and inclusion webinars
Diversity and Inclusion
Managing Change: 5 Critical Questions Leaders Must Answer
PM webinars
Project Management
Log In