Change…does it make you feel like you’ve jumped out of an airplane without your parachute? Change is constant, inevitable, and usually follows a predictable pattern, especially in the business world. So, we should be used to it, right? Why does that simple word cause panic and anxiety in so many of us?

A major complication in the change process is that everyone moves through the stages at very different paces. Think of this example: As a team leader or CEO, you have been scrutinizing an upcoming merger for months, so by the time you announce the change to the rest of your team, you’re ready to move forward and expect that the team will be just as ready to launch, right? Wrong.

Oh, there may be some that appear ready, but that can oftentimes be chalked up to simple compliance – people nodding their heads while remaining silent. It’s like the honeymoon phase in marriage. There’s all this energy and excitement about the newness, but no one expresses their annoyance of underwear left on the bathroom floor or leftover toothpaste in the sink.

The number one question people are asking themselves at that moment is “what does this mean to me?”

Because leading change is one of the most important jobs you will have as a leader, consider these tips:

  • Help Create a Vision – Allow others to see the benefits and the impact of the change. Beginning with the end in mind – what do we want things to look like? – rather than just changing for change’s sake, may help bring them along for the ride. Going after both the hearts and minds of your team will not only help them understand the impact, but will also ensure their buy-in and assure them that you are a part of the process.
  • Regulate the Tension – Don’t assume the change will, or won’t, affect people a certain way. Allow them to talk through their fears and concerns and have back-and-forth dialogue, revealing your own anxiety at the same time. This will help them connect not only to you, but with the change itself. Help answer questions like “why should I care?” or “how can I contribute?” And be ok with not always knowing all the answers. You are going through the change too so showing your human side only proves you are just that…human.
  • Create Transparency – People fight for a why, not a what.  Give your team opportunities to move from the external (intellectual) to the internal (emotional) stages of the change. You may see a high level of energy at the beginning of the process, which may wane as the team starts to make sense of and personalize it.  Creating steps ahead of time and sharing them will allow you to walk them through the process. Then, communicate, communicate, and communicate some more!
  • Recognize There Are Stages – In general, people will eventually gain a sense of clarity and be ready to launch once they have moved through each stage.  The question is how can you get them there as quickly as possible.  Ask for their ideas. When they get a sense of clarity around what the change will look like, ask for more collaboration, ideas and interaction. Remember that we are creatures of habit – the inability to see the future can cause anxiety. Helping connect the team to the change and how they contribute will bring those anxiety levels down.
  • Be Patient!  With all that said, being mindful that you must regulate your own tension first is crucial to getting the rest of your team there. Back to another airplane analogy…we are all familiar with the airline safety speech…think of it like putting on your own oxygen mask first during an airline emergency – you can’t help others unless you have secured your mask!

So, if you feel like you’re flailing through the air without a parachute or can’t find your oxygen mask,  Pathmakers is ready to help you and your team regulate and maneuver seamlessly through any change in your company. Check out our website and other blogs at