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Follow this 3-step road map to lead employees through change

Creating change requires employees to feel confident and buy in. Here's how leaders can make that process easier, especially during difficult times.

5 min read


Follow this 3-step road map to lead employees through change

Pixabay image/SmartBrief illustration

Your employees need your leadership now more than ever.

Leading employees starts with understanding – truly listening, cultivating empathy and determining how they’re really feeling.

Once you truly understand what’s going on with your employees, you can implement a three-step road map for aligning, inspiring, and empowering them:

  • Step No. 1:  Ensure the purpose and core values of your organization are clear and compelling.
  • Step No. 2:  Communicate clearly, frequently and personally.
  • Step No. 3:  Establish clear processes instead of trying to develop and implement plans.

Watch this new video to learn about each of these steps in the employee engagement road map.

To learn more from Denise Lee Yohn or to book her to speak to your organization, see her website and YouTube channel.

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These days, the only thing that seems constant is change. You need to lead your employees through all this change. 

You need to:

  • Align your employees, meaning getting them on the same page with you and with each other about what needs to be done, why and how.
  • You also need to inspire employees to overcome their fears, embrace change and go the extra mile.
  • And you need to empower them, giving them the tools and information they need to do their jobs and contribute to your success.

The first and most important step in leading your people is to understand them. Only then can you expect them to understand you and what you are asking them to do.  So, you need to listen to your employees with empathy and develop emotional intelligence.

With understanding as your foundation, you can then implement a three-step road map for engaging your employees.

1. Ensure your purpose and core values are clear and compelling

Everyone in your organization needs to share one common understanding of why your business exists and how everyone should think and act, so that their work has meaning and focus.  Don’t assume that everyone knows your purpose and values, or that simply putting them on your website or on a plaque in the hallway is enough.

And if your purpose and values use the same generic platitudes that every other company claims, like “We’re committed to customer service” or “We operate with integrity and respect”, they’re not going to have any impact.  So, make sure you have a unique purpose and core values that advance and support your uniqueness as an organization.  And ensure everyone understands your purpose and values, believes in them and uses them.  

That’s how you build organizational resilience in these tough times.

2. The next action step in your employee engagement road map is to communicate

Now you might think you are communicating well, but if you’re like most leaders, it’s likely that your employees don’t agree. According to talent management firm Aon Hewitt, only 46 percent of employees feel management communicates effectively.

Here are a few tips for communicating with employees:

  • First, make sure your communication is clear.  Don’t beat around the bush – especially if you have bad news. People want to clearly understand what’s going on and what it means to them.
  • Also, communicate frequently. You probably can’t communicate too frequently. If you leave people in the dark, they will make stuff up. So even if you are uncertain about the next step, share what you do know and what you’re doing to get clarity. That builds employee trust and respect.
  • And finally, communicate personally.  It’s OK to show a little personality and emotion.  In crises, people crave an emotional connection. They want their leaders to be human.

3. The last step in engaging employees is to establish clear processes for all aspects of running your business

In these uncertain times, it’s not realistic to do much planning. So rather than trying to implement plans, develop processes — processes for how you forecast and budget, how you work with suppliers, how you ensure people get the right information at the right time. And make sure everyone knows, follows, and trusts the process. This will increase your organizational agility — and it might actually help you identify new more efficient, more productive ways of doing things.

This three-step engagement road map — purpose and values, communication, and process — is how you align, inspire and empower your people. It’s how you attract and retain employees; and how you produce a more productive, more efficient workforce, which is particularly important if you are short-staffed. It’s how you lead.