Leading Change: 7 Change Management Skills to Develop In Your Employees

It’s no secret that companies need to excel at implementing change to thrive in today’s business environment. Successfully executing change requires a coordinated effort from everyone in the organization, not just top-level management. That’s why it’s crucial for employees to possess the change management skills necessary to participate fully in implementations — so they become change drivers instead of change passengers.

There are seven necessary change management skills that your employees should master in order to stay ahead of the curve.

1. Change ready mindset

Having a change ready mindset means being open to new ideas and approaches, and embracing the fact that things are always changing. It also involves being able to spot the innovation and growth opportunities that disruption creates. As employees cultivate this mindset, they’ll fear change and uncertainty less and less. Instead, they’ll come to see it as brimming with potential and possibility. And when they experience negative emotions about a change, they’ll be able to move past them more swiftly and fully accept the new normal.

2. Willingness to learn constantly

Rapid change means that companies and their employees will never have all the answers. They’ll frequently encounter unfamiliar problems, need to learn new skills, or polish existing ones. And often, you’ll need your employees to use their ingenuity to invent new solutions. So you need a workforce that’s comfortable with learning constantly.

3. Focused flexibility

Flexibility is no longer a key skill for startups only. Things are constantly in flux at all businesses. An employee might spend months on an important project, only to find that an external event has forced priorities to shift. They’re now needed more urgently on a different task, which might require them to simultaneously upskill. And they still need to manage their old project in the background. That can be a lot to handle, but it’s the new normal at work.

That’s why you need to develop focused flexibility in your workforce — the ability to change tracks amid workplace change while concentrating on the task at hand, such as their regular to-dos. This way, you can avoid productivity lulls or breakdowns amid change.

4. Empathy

Empathy is helpful at work, but it’s particularly essential during times of change. It can be easy to get caught up in the logistics when mid-transformation and overlook the human element. Fostering empathy allows us to understand and connect with others’ experiences and emotions, which is imperative when dealing with difficult or stressful situations.

5. Self-Awareness

Self-aware individuals know their behavioral tendencies, typical emotional responses, and strengths and weaknesses. This skill helps employees see how change impacts them and how they react to it, and notice what they specifically enjoy (or don’t) in new situations.

For example, an employee knows that they’re unhappy about an internal reorganization. A self-aware employee knows why. They may realize it’s because they struggle to make new friends and share their opinions with an unfamiliar group of colleagues. By acknowledging their emotional response and limitations, this self-aware employee will be able to take steps to help themselves in the new situation.

6. Effective Communication

We know: any list of top workplace skills will always include communication. But it becomes exponentially more important when handling change. Good communication creates clarity amid uncertainty, helping everyone align on what they’re working to achieve. Without it, productivity breaks down.

7. Big-picture thinking

Last but definitely not least, big-picture thinking is a crucial change management skill. This is the ability to see how smaller pieces fit in the broader context and the overall impact they create. When employees are able to track smaller events and changes in their workplace, industry, and the world, they have the foresight to see what major disruptions might be headed their way. This also enables them to appreciate the importance of major workplace changes that they’re going through because they can see how their everyday work impacts the organization at large.

With these skills, your organization will easily be able to tackle any workplace change that comes your way, from major overhauls to the more frequent, everyday changes that impact you now and down the line.