Leading an IT service management (ITSM), or any, team through change can be tough – for instance the implementation and adoption of a new ITSM tool. Because change is scary. What if something doesn’t work as well as it did before? What if we create bigger problems? What if, what if, what if…? And hence we try to resist, or avoid, the change.
But what if it all goes well? What if it changes our, and everyone else’s, lives for the better? These are the positive questions we need to ask, but often they’re the ones that we tend to ignore. So, if it’s human nature to resist change, how can you encourage your ITSM team to get on board and adapt to a new working environment? Luckily, there are ways to soften the blow, when it comes to dealing with change, and to not only get your employees to accept the change but also to welcome it. And, in this article, I provide four tips for leading your ITSM employees through periods of change.
1. Improve Your Communications to Help Remove the Fear of Change
Your staff work hard for you. So, if some major change is about to rock the boat, then they deserve to know how it will impact them.
Whatever it is, you need to clearly explain to them: what’s going to change, why it’s changing, how, and when. They will also want to know the “What’s in it for me?”
It’s important not to tell half a story or to keep some things under wraps until the last minute. And definitely don’t allude to big changes on the horizon without spelling out exactly what’s going to happen and the impact they will have.
Providing half the truth will probably only lead to office gossip and people filling in the gaps themselves. In these scenarios, people will usually get it wrong and “work themselves up” for no reason – causing you, and others, much more hassle than if you’d just communicated the change, and its impact, more effectively in the first place.
2. Create a Trusting Environment to Facilitate Feedback and Dialogue
When there’s a lack of trust in your team or department, making changes becomes much more difficult. People will resist what you’re trying to do because they might think that something unknown is to be forced upon them and they’ve little faith that the changes will work.
Therefore, creating a trusting environment is important. If your employees know that they can come to you with their concerns, and that they’ll receive an open and honest response, then they won’t feel quite so overwhelmed when met with the news that a change is imminent.
However, if your staff feel that they can’t approach you (with their concerns), then it’s likely that they’ll have questions that remain unanswered. They will then “fill in the gaps” – possibly incorrectly – and put up barriers to their personal acceptance of the change because they can’t see past their own “incorrect” views.
So, encourage communication, within a trusting environment, and always be available to your staff when they need you.
As with tip #1, it’s important to be honest. Even if staff don’t like what you’ve got to say, hopefully they’ll respect you for trusting them with the information and recognize that you’re trying to help.
3. Aim to Communicate and Implement Change “at the Right Time”
Sometimes change can come at the wrong time.
So, if it’s within your power, try to make sure that the change is to be implemented when people are ready and able to accommodate it.
You’ve worked out the best time to change, communicated effectively, got everything in place, answered everyone’s concerns – and you’re ready to go.
Ideally, you’ll also try to take baby steps and make the change gradual – change something, let it settle, move on to the next step, and repeat. This allows people to gradually get used to the new ways of working, see the benefits of each step (or minor change), and understand why further change is necessary.
However, if it’s not within your control, and the change has to happen at an inconvenient time (and probably more quickly than you’d like), then the best you can do is to communicate as clearly as you can and be open, and accommodating, to any concerns your staff might have.
Finally, if your staff are rapidly experiencing change after (bad) change after (bad) change, then it’s unsurprising if they’re concerned about the next forthcoming change.
4. Highlight the Benefits of the Change to the Organization and Individuals
Your staff might not know if the forthcoming change is going to make things better or if things are going to go horribly wrong (and cause them issues). They’re probably assuming the latter and they hate the idea that they’re going to be under more pressure in their roles than they are already.
To help counter this, you need to talk about the benefits of the change – the aforementioned “what’s in it for them,” why it’s going to make the work environment better for them and others, and how this is helping the company as a whole.
In line with my previous tips, get your staff on board by removing the mystery, laying it all out, and getting them to step back and look at the bigger picture. If they know what to expect, and if they can understand how these changes will help them, then they’re much more likely to jump aboard and take the ride alongside you.
We’ll continue to experience change within IT and ITSM, it’s the nature of the industry. And as long as you give your staff notice of the upcoming change, explain clearly what’s going to happen and why, highlight the benefits of the change, and create a trusting environment for dialogue, they’re more likely to be receptive to the change.