3 Tips to Leading Your Team through Change


October 14, 2020

During a Leading Change workshop at the Center for Executive Education, facilitators ask participants to complete this sentence – “Change done to us is…”

Responses have included the following words:

Difficult, Terrifying, Scary, Not Necessary, Hard, Unexpected

We then ask the group to complete another sentence – “Change done by us is…”

Participants have a much different response to this sentence. Participants have said that “Change done by us is:”

Exciting, Innovative, Necessary, Crucial to the success of my organization, Collaborative

It is not surprising that responses are typically negative when participants think about another entity forcing change on them without prior knowledge or understanding of why it is happening, but that is an expectation that organizations are requiring of its leaders and teams consistently.

Research indicates that over two-thirds of major change initiatives are not successful. Yet when evaluated, many of these unsuccessful changes had good solutions.

So what makes a difference between a successful change initiative and those that fail? The personal commitment of team members to ensure the success of the initiative and being included in that change. In other words the “change is done by us.”

How can we encourage team members to have a personal connection and commitment to organizational changes to ensure the success of initiatives? The answer – finding what motivates individual team members.

There tends to be an assumption that the main motivation of individuals is money. However, the number one work motivator is emotion, not money. Three specific drivers of motivation are:

  1. Mastery – the desire to get better at something
  2. Autonomy – the desire to direct our own lives
  3. Purpose – the feeling we can make a difference

Knowing these three drivers of motivation, you can help your team make a connection to their own personal motivation in regards to the change. Once you understand the motivation of your individual team members, you can follow the guidelines below to give your team what they need, when they need it and help guide them through change.

3 Tips to Lead Your Team through Change

  1. Validate feelings of loss (control, routine, competence, understanding, purpose, etc).
  2. Give information – share why the change is necessary and consider starting with what is NOT changing.
  3. Vision – Give them a vision that draws them into the new.

Understanding individual motivation and following the above steps will assist you in ensuring the success of your organizational change initiative.


Are you interested in learning more about Leading Change? The Center for Executive Education offers a virtual Leading Change Certificate and custom Leading Change workshops for teams. Click HERE to request more information.

ABOUT THE BELMONT CENTER FOR EXECUTIVE EDUCATION: The Center engages learners in a way that makes a significant difference in their development, behaviors and results. We develop effective leaders and employees in order to improve the results of our client organizations and the career success, satisfaction and significance of the individuals we serve.

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