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Train managers to build resilient teams that can respond to change

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in HR Management,Human Resources

The boss has laid out how she’s going to hold her team members accountable, and they all understand what’s expected of them. But the group isn’t home free yet. There’s one more piece of the puzzle left: responding to change.

HR can help managers build resilience as a key team skill.

Few teams remain static over time. As an organization matures, so does a group’s mission. Objectives can and often do change midstream. This can occur when:

  • A team must respond to an urgent competitive threat
  • A management shakeup leads the team in a different direction
  • Team members leave, and newcomers bring different skills or backgrounds.

Change can prove to be especially disruptive if it deflates or defeats the team’s performance to date. Teammates who were held accountable for producing results may now complain: “It was all for nothing,” “We don’t want to start from scratch” or “This new set-up just isn’t fair—the goals aren’t realistic.”

Managing a team’s disenchantment will test a supervisors’ leadership skills. Short of giving up and disbanding the group, they will need to:

  • Convince the team that the changes will ultimately benefit them and the organization
  • Urge the team to revise its mission
  • Settle on a new set of accountabilities so all the members know how they’ll be measured from this point forward.

Keep the information flowing

The key to managing change is not to overfacilitate. Events can unfold rapidly and unpredictably. Trying to control the team’s actions or rushing to reassure the group when the future is uncertain can backfire.

Remind bosses whose teams are dealing with change to unclog the lines of communication. They must alert the team as to what the changes will mean to its purpose and goals.

Then they must commit to promptly informing everyone of new developments.

Tip: Send email alerts to team members whenever there’s news to report. If team members need to refocus their efforts and deliver “stretch goals” within a tight time frame, the email should explain the circumstances and context so that they see how their contribution affects the big picture. Sending a group email ensures that every team member will receive the same information.

One benefit of weathering change is that managers buy some time to establish a new yardstick to measure the team’s performance. Urge them not to rush to impose a detailed list of accountabilities. Require evaluating team members on their flexibility and overall attitude as much as on their actual work product.

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