AXELOS ProPath, the world's most powerful project, programme and portfolio best practice certifications

Supporting staff through change: Support for managers

Elissa Farrow
May 28, 2013

Many of my clients are going through organisational reviews and realignments. One of the common themes I see is that managers and executives sometimes don’t know how to best support their staff going through change. Support staff through change involves the following principles:

  1. Managers need to support themselves to best support their staff
  2. Managers need to inform, orientate and engage staff
  3. Managers need to reinforce change with effective communication
  4. Managers need to acknowledge the past and ensure success is celebrated
  5. Managers need to sensitively manage the emotional responses of their staff

(Please note I will use the term ‘manager’ to cover team leaders, managers, directors, executives, senior executives and C-level executives.)

This blog will focus on the first principle, which is that managers need support themselves to best support their staff. This is where my role as a senior change consultant comes in. I see the key to success of a change initiative is a manager having the skills and knowledge to manage their staff through change. This involves:

  • An awareness of what change is and what their staff might be going through.
  • An awareness of their own reactions to change and that it is important to where possible move to a more positive state.
  • An appreciation of why frequent, consistent and contextualised messages are critical to their work place.
  • Have the skills to communicate with their staff, listen to their staff, find the answers if they don’t know and are as honest and open as they can be given the specifics of the change at that point in time.
  • Have the skills to influence the change management approach. This also requires a need for knowledge of the change approach and method that is planned. Not to be the expert of PCI® or Kotter or another method but to at least have the appreciation that good practice change management is a planned approach contextualised to the environment and can be influenced.

A lot of my work as a senior change consultant is working with not only managers but senior managers and C-level executives in agreeing on the level of change management required for an initiative, but also to raise their skills and knowledge so that they can appropriately support their staff.

I usually do a simple assessment of my sponsors and managers so that I can understand their experience with change, their strengths in the five items mentioned above. I then assess the best support plan for them where I can provide additional coaching or advice to grow the areas that might be more challenging. A supported manager can better support their staff.

Elissa Farrow
Elissa is a founder and lead consultant for About Your Transition and has extensive experience in strategic organisational adaptation design, facilitation and delivery. Elissa has supported organisations to define positive futures and then successfully transform to bring lasting benefits. She has proven adaptative capacity and can successfully transfer her skills to different contexts. In 2018, Elissa commenced her doctoral studies through the University of the Sunshine Coast. Her published research is exploring organisational adaptation to the evolving field of artificial intelligence using qualitative and participatory research methodologies. Elissa is an experienced board director and considered a thought leader in her field having won a number of national and local awards for contributing to Women in Project Management and for Change Management Research.
Read more