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Corporate Team Building

Teamwork Skills

Building Change-Ready Teams

So how can managers create an environment in which change is perceived as an opportunity rather than a disaster? How do they nurture their teams so that impending shifts are tackled with confidence and aplomb?

The first step is to examine the individuals on their team and look for: complacency, lack of commitment, fear or anger. Not everyone deals with change in the same way. Some workers will ignore the changes and do only routine tasks, waiting for the "change to pass."

Others will pay lip service to the change, but fail to take initiative and truly support the new way. Still others become "frozen" with self-doubt, fear of loss, and a lack of control. And finally, some exhibit outright hostility about the change.

Since hiring only those who freely embrace change is really not an option in most cases, managers have to start where their team currently operates. An assessment can help illuminate feelings about change, but so can an open discussion with the entire team. Let your team know that change is a constant in the work place, and their performance will be, in part, determined by their capacity and willingness to change behaviors, communication styles, skill sets or even beliefs.

Teamwork, for example, is a belief that the group can outperform the sum total of individual efforts. Embracing teamwork requires a drastic mind shift for some.

Managers who desire a change-ready team must be willing (and ideally comfortable with) the occasionally "messy" human components of change: "I'm afraid," "I'm confused," "I need more information."

Open communication is therefore the most important factor to building a change-ready team. Share what you know, as soon as possible, as often as possible--and if you know nothing, share that lack of knowledge as well. Remember, honesty within ambiguity is key.

Include your team members in the change process by assigning roles. These might be specific tasks, for example, "Sally, your job is to send out emails once a week to team members with updated sales information and any changes we make to the rate structure." Or they might be interpersonal roles, like, "Sam, I want you to be devil's advocate during this next brainstorming session so that we fully explore all aspects of this decision."

Remember too, that most of us have both positive and negative experiences with change. Encourage your team members to share these stories during department meetings so you can learn what to avoid, and which behaviors to embrace.

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