Strong in the Face of Change

Updated: Jan 26

Plummeting sales, supply chain issues, cashflow decline, restructuring teams and the dynamics of hybrid working continue to demand attention. The ability of leaders and teams to manage the ever-present impact of change is being tested constantly.

What beliefs, behaviors and circumstances create teams with the agility and resilience to stand strong in the face of change?

A German manufacturer faced a dramatic reduction in sales and intense competitive pressure. At the same time, internal teams were being expanded, reorganized and repurposed – all while working remotely. New team members, hired from competing brands, joined incumbents who had been assigned to new positions or whose jobs had been redefined. The result? A culture of confusion and dysfunction.

People retreated into silos, often using biting humor and avoidance when issues presented themselves. Trust was eroded and team members were suspicious of one another and of the leadership.

Sound familiar? What changes have taken your teams on a wild ride in this past year? Have you experienced circumstances like these?

  • Eroded trust

  • Guarded communication

  • Encouraged isolation, not collaboration

  • Minimized safety when it comes to sharing ideas, questions and feedback

When change is the constant, and when it comes at a pace that can feel relentless, team members can retreat into their own safe space, a place where they feel control and protection.

How do leaders create that sense of safety in the midst of change?

How can team members learn to stay present and connected when things feel unpredictable?

The first step is to understand the situation as it is now. How does each member of the team assess their own ability to ask questions of other team members? Can they raise concerns or challenge the direction without risk of personal reputation? Are they able to give and receive candid feedback? Collectively, each person’s reality creates a picture of the whole group. From there, solutions can be designed that remove barriers holding back team members and enable shared beliefs to be cultivated:

  • Each team member is valued

  • Sharing ideas, questions and concerns is necessary

  • Risk taking is encouraged

  • Collaborative learning is essential

  • Members are accountable to each other

What happened with the German manufacturing teams? They found the common values and drivers around which they all aligned. From there, they committed to listen to each other, solve problems face-to-face, and recognize each others’ contributions. Sounds simple enough, but it’s hard work. Trust is growing and the team is quickly reaching new levels of flexibility and achievement.

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