Your leaders don’t know how to help their people through change. Here’s how to help them help others.

I was called into my boss’s office. “Jeff, due to financial performance below expectations we have to make cuts. Unfortunately, we have to let you go. Effective immediately.” I was completely surprised and had no idea what to say. So I asked my manager how she was coping with this. Seriously!

As a leader, how would you respond?

I was in shock but didn’t want to show it. My wife and I had just bought our first home. How would we pay for it?

More execs are asking for help preparing their leaders to deal with employee responses to negative change. To equip them, we work on several themes:

>> Understand how people respond to change. Including you.

Our brains are tuned to identify threats. We look for the bad stuff first, prompting a range of responses: Fight, Flight, Freeze. Some people choose to flourish. Others need more help.

>> Take care of yourself first.

If you aren’t coping well, or are tired, you will have little to give others. Change demands more energy than usual. We identify self-care strategies.

>> Demonstrate empathy.

Because you have experienced positive and negative change, you can empathize with employee reactions. Acknowledge pain and fear without making it about you.

>> Give them time and check in later.

When I was facing job loss, I needed time to process what was happening. I don’t remember any of the trip home that day. I was glad Shelly reached out to see how i was doing.

When leaders are not equipped to help people cope, they often say the wrong thing and make the situation worse. That can play out horribly in social media. Done right, helping people to navigate change can strengthen your company’s reputation.

Put your leaders in the best position to help their people adapt. Equip them for change.

If you need assistance preparing your leaders for a current or future change, I can help. Just let me know.

This post is one of Jeff’s regular submissions in the “Supercharging Change” series. Subscribe for free insights, tools, and videos here.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Jeff Skipper
Jeff Skipper is an expert in accelerating change. Clients such as Shell, Goldman Sachs and The Salvation Army have engaged him to achieve dramatic results during strategic transformation by wrapping complex change in motivating mission. He has been quoted in Fast Company, Forbes and HP’s enterprise.nxt. Jeff holds a Master’s degree in Organizational Psychology and is a Certified Change Management Professional.