Today’s sales leaders have to be much better at managing change than at any time in the recent past. It’s part of the job now. But just because change is more common and comes faster, doesn’t mean that people are suddenly much better at handling it. It still takes a gifted leader to help salespeople respond well.
How People Experience Change
I help a lot of companies manage change and I suggest 8 action steps leaders should take to help their team embrace change. Before I get to those, some thoughts on change:
There are several “change models” out there, but one that is familiar to most is:
During Denial, the team will focus on how things used to be, focusing on the past and trying to ignore what is coming. During Resistance, they will start to realize that change is coming (whether they like or not) and fear, anxiety, and some feelings of anger will take over. In Exploration, they will start to open their minds to what is coming, try to understand the rationale for change, and will be willing to learn. You will know they are moving into the final stage, Commitment, when things start to feel like they are getting back to normal (for you and for them)—they will feel a little more in control and start to engage in perfecting the new way.
The real question is: What should you do as a sales leader to help your team move through these stages? These are the eight steps, two for each stage.
8 Steps to Helping Others Embrace Change
- Repeat why change is necessary.
- Clearly communicate steps and timeline.
- Ask individuals to express their thoughts.
- Listen to the concerns.
- Make sure everyone knows what you want them to do.
- Encourage people to actively participate.
- Recognize when someone is doing it right.
- Focus on keeping the team motivated and committed.
If you are in the middle of a big change right now, ask yourself where most of your people are and then build a set of specific actions, using the eight steps above.