You've gone through the checklist at least a dozen times: equipment, software,
training venue, lunch breaks, light refreshments...But it doesn't matter how well you plan for change, not everyone will be comfortable with it and it is likely that you will face some resistance from your team.

As a leader or manager, your role is to guide your team through the change process, reducing resistance wherever possible and increasing enthusiasm and commitment for it. These tips offer practical advice to help you identify and overcome resistance to change, in order to give the change effort the best possible chance of success.

It is important to be aware of how your team are reacting to any change. Remember that people respond to change in different ways, and reactions will occur at different times. Look out for signs that people in your team are not coping well with change. For example, they might be feeling shocked, confused, helpless, and frustrated.

Keep the lines of communication open. Effective and timely communication will help to reduce uncertainty during the initial stages of any change process. Rather than leaving people to find their way without guidance or support, ensure that you keep your team as up to date as possible with the changes.

A good way to do this is to have regular meetings and briefings. Your team will then know exactly where the change process is going, what the next steps are, how they will be affected, and the positive contribution they can make.

In additional to your regular meetings, you should be available for anyone in your team to talk to you about any aspect of the change process. Try be as approachable as you can, as this will help people feel more secure knowing they can discuss their feelings and concerns with you.

If people are showing resistance, it is important that you listen to their concerns and show empathy for how they are feeling. Explaining the change process and why it needs to happen can help to overcome negative reactions. Focus on the problems with the current situation and outline the benefits that the change process will.

Obviously healthy scepticism can be good, so try to keep in mind that not all negativity is a bad thing. It is unlikely that your change programme will be perfect, and people should be encouraged to give feedback and suggest improvements. Healthy scepticism is important. This type of feedback vets the change idea or process so that it can be improved upon along the road to becoming reality.

However you must strike a balance between healthy scepticism towards change, and hostility. If one or two people are very outspoken and averse to the change, you must address this at an early stage. Otherwise, this attitude could spread throughout the rest of your team.

Even if you are not feeling totally committed to the change, you must be a positive role model and project a positive outlook to your team. They will take their cues from how you behave, so don't show any negativity or uncertainty about the change. And remember that observational learning is very powerful, so demonstrating that you believe and 'buy into' the change process is a good way of combating negativity from your team. Why not get stuck into helping implement the changes within your team? Get involved in the detailed aspects of the change, side-by-side with your team.

To help your team adapt to change, you will need to help them see and think differently. Motivate your team through this phase by helping them stay focused on the end goal, and painting a positive picture of the end result. You must give your team support in adopting any new working practices. This could be training sessions on new work processes, and developing written guidance or standard operating procedures for your team to refer to. Get your team involved wherever possible, and allow them to make their own decisions about how the changes will for them.

Don't rush your team through the process of change, but give them time to work through and accept the process of change. People will not become comfortable with the change overnight, so take time to ensure that the changes are embedded fully. During any change process, mistakes are common, and this might affect the performance of your team. This is quite normal, and you should allow your team the to experiment with, and apply new ideas.

Having enough time to adapt is important, so build in as much time as you can. Have weekly meetings to give updates on progress, share best practice and brainstorm for new ideas and solutions to problems. Your team members may need more support than is immediately apparent. They may become frustrated if ideas don't work perfectly, so talk to them regularly about their concerns and continue to offer reassurance and support. You could also help them to find new methods for coping with specific difficulties, such as seeking out (both internal and external) sources of expertise.

Once you have reached the end of the change process, it is important to stop and reflect on the experience as a team. This will help you focus on key learning points which can be put into practice for any future change initiatives. It will also strengthen the team as a cohesive unit. Ask your team to reflect upon their own performance throughout the change process, and to consider what they might do differently next time. You should also do this yourself. Remember to get feedback from your team on how you led and supported them throughout the period of change.