POWERS Management Consulting Culture Powers Business brand logo

Culture Powers Business™

Manage Change: The Top 4 Ways to Engage and Empower Your Frontline Leaders to Be Better Change Managers

The Top 4 Ways to Better Engage and Empower Your Frontline Leaders to Manage Change

How do you prepare a new generation of business leaders to embrace and respond productively to the inevitability of change? How do you manage change to increase your organization’s flexibility, adapt to the marketplace, and thrive through the chaos?

Nothing can stifle operational performance and hit your bottom line like the inability to adapt to changes in the marketplace. As we’ve experienced over the last few years, business change can come from external forces, such as skyrocketing customer demand, supply chain disruptions, or a global health crisis. 

Change can also come from internal forces, often introduced in response to external forces, such as mergers and acquisitions (M&A), new systems, processes, hiring, equipment, relocation, expansion, contraction, and more. 

Change can be planned or unforeseen. And with the current global economic climate, change is constant and inevitable.

Of course, seasoned business vets already know this fact. Customers can change their suppliers and leave practically overnight. Suppliers can go out of business or drop a product line. Your product mix may need to vary to meet customer demand or shore up the bottom line. New hires and promotions create changes in the workforce dynamics and culture

So how do you prepare a new generation of leaders coming up in your organization to embrace and respond productively to the inevitability of change? How do you increase your organization’s flexibility to adapt to the marketplace and thrive through change? How do you excel at organizational change management?

Let’s set the systems and processes aside for a moment and focus on the human element of change management and how your organization can respond more productively. Let’s make your company’s response to change a strength, a competitive advantage. Here are four practical ways to improve your team’s ability to manage change.

1. Frequent and Open Communication

The more frequently and openly executive or senior leadership can inform frontline leaders (managers and supervisors) of upcoming organizational changes, the better equipped and successful those people will be in managing their direct reports through the process. 

Of course, there may be information that needs to be held close to the vest, at the executive level, for proprietary, competitive, or fiduciary reasons. But the faster and more effectively the information flows to your frontline leaders, the more successful any change will be. Period. 

Employees learning about layoffs or site closures, for example, through the media, instead of through open internal communication, can have a devastating effect on the remaining team members and overall productivity. Moreover, the aftereffects of poorly communicated company changes can last for years and devastate the bottom line.

2. Actively Engage Your Frontline Leaders in Change Planning

Nothing can put a team into turmoil like dumping a massive change on them without their knowledge or input. It’s even worse if they hear of upcoming changes through employee rumors or gossip. We covered open and transparent communication.

But letting your people know of the forthcoming changes is only part of effective management and response. Involving them in change planning is critical. 

Your frontline leaders are more equipped than anyone in your organization to provide feedback on how the change will impact performance. Ultimately, they will be the ones held accountable for maintaining (or even improving) performance amid changes. So, involve them in the planning process. 

Tapping this often-overlooked resource will likely increase frontline leadership engagement and improve their buy-in. In addition, utilizing their problem-solving capabilities imparts ownership of the challenges and accountability for the outcomes.

Effective change planning will also provide organization and structure and build a common language around the changes, increasing the likelihood of success.

3. Develop a Healthy Change Mindset and Effective Behaviors in Your Frontline Leaders

Properly preparing your frontline leaders to handle change is a must. You can take a practical approach by providing formalized sessions with step-by-step guidance through various change scenarios. This type of change management training may cover topics like what to do if a significant order comes in, how to shift a product mix effectively, or how to integrate a new piece of equipment or application. 

But ultimately, the type of training that is most necessary (and sometimes completely absent) is training your leaders to develop the right mindset, skillset, and behaviors to manage any change. And each person handles change differently. So, it’s going to come down to one-on-one assessment and coaching. 

Investing quality time with your frontline leaders to develop an effective response to change is vital. They will be the success or failure points. They will elicit and inspire buy-in from their direct reports. You must assess their current capacity and understanding of change management and then give them the tools to improve their response and manage others’ responses through it. This level of personal investment is the key to successful change management.

4. Openly Report on Progress, Successes, and Setbacks

Properly preparing your frontline leaders to handle change is a must. You can take a practical approach by providing formalized sessions with step-by-step guidance through various change scenarios. This type of change management training may cover topics like what to do if a significant order comes in, how to shift a product mix effectively, or how to integrate a new piece of equipment or application. 

But ultimately, the type of training that is most necessary (and sometimes completely absent) is training your leaders to develop the right mindset, skillset, and behaviors to manage any change. And each person handles change differently. So, it’s going to come down to one-on-one assessment and coaching. 

Investing quality time with your frontline leaders to develop an effective response to change is vital. They will be the success or failure points. They will elicit and inspire buy-in from their direct reports. You must assess their current capacity and understanding of change management and then give them the tools to improve their response and manage others’ responses through it. This level of personal investment is the key to successful change management.

Takeaways for Senior Leaders

As a senior leader, when it comes to navigating and managing change successfully, it’s up to you to assess the capabilities of your people. Do they have the tools to deal with change? Do they have a productive mindset and the skills to manage changes from whichever direction they come? If not, take a proactive approach and start working with them now.

Senior leaders that train and ingrain their frontline managers and supervisors with the right behaviors to manage change foster a more productive work environment and build a more agile organization. Effective change management can increase your organization’s scalability, sustainability, and momentum in the marketplace. You become more competitive and profitable.

Building and fostering effective change management in your organization can help prepare you for whatever the market may bring your way. 

The POWERS Difference

At POWERS, we focus on Frontline Leadership Training and Development to transform operational performance and prepare your leaders to be better change managers. We help you build a growth and performance culture that operates at peak levels to lower costs, increase productivity, build agility, and sustain that performance over the long haul.

Our team has helped executive leadership across many industries operationalize their culture for rapid and sustained performance improvement, increased competitive advantage, greater value, and a stronger bottom line.

To put our experienced team and proven track record to work for you, schedule an initial discovery and analysis by calling +1 678-971-4711, or emailing us at info@thepowerscompany.com.

Get the latest Culture Performance Management insights delivered to your inbox

About the Author

Sean Hart

CEO, Managing Partner

Sean Hart is an industrial engineer with a background in manufacturing supervision and project management. Sean’s background is in improving overall plant efficiencies and implementing Lean techniques to improve processes.