In your role as a front-line supervisor, you will eventually find yourself in the situation of selling a change to your team that you are also having trouble accepting. If you have not had this experience yet, you will. And when it happens, it can create all sorts of negative thoughts and emotions for you: frustration, anger, stress, fear of failure, feeling disingenuous, and others.
As a leader, you face a major challenge in this situation – you have to be positive to sell the change. How can you remain positive in spite of the negative emotions you are experiencing as a result of the change?
Here are three questions to consider to help you find the positive path forward even in the face of a change you’re struggling to accept…
Is it illegal, immoral, or unethical?
If it is, you’ve got bigger problems than figuring out how to accept the change. And, this is an extremely rare situation.
While I know that it happens, I have never been part of a corporate change that was illegal, immoral, or unethical. I have seen and had to implement policy and procedure changes with which I disagreed at the time, and it was hard to do. Still, it wasn’t unlawful or flat out wrong. I just disagreed.
In those situations, you can choose to extend some grace to your leaders and assume that they are doing the best they can with the information they have and the constraints they face. When you make this choice, it gets a bit easier to accept the change.
Is there some way that you can influence the scope, direction, or implementation of the change?
You might be able to modify the change in some small way at your local level that gives you the opportunity to make the change more palatable while preserving the integrity of the intended outcome. Some things to consider are timing of the change, additional training or support for team members during the change, or modifying other policies and/or procedures you can control to minimize the negative affects you or your team might experience.
Have you done everything you can to understand the driving force/reason behind this change?
If you dig hard enough and ask enough questions, you might find some positive aspects of the change even though you don’t like every element of it. In many cases, understanding the reason behind the change can turn a negative perception of it into a positive – or at least neutral – view of it. Engage with leader’s senior to you. Ask questions. Have conversations. Seek understanding.
In the end, it’s rarely easy to embrace and sell a change that you have trouble accepting for yourself. Leading from the middle of an organization will eventually give you the opportunity to face this situation. The number of these situations that are “hills to die on” is incredibly small. When you face this situation, consider these three questions so that you can honorably fulfill your role as a supervisor and drive the change implementation with your team.