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Leading Your Team Through Change

Managing a resilient, positive and engaged team can be a challenge when you are faced with constant workplace transitions. Organizational restructuring, new leadership, staffing moves or personal changes for individual employees are all common reasons why managing change is a critical skill. That’s also why guiding your team through adopting new processes and behaviors is an important part of your role as a leader.

During the 2015 university–wide staff survey, 60 percent of respondents indicated that they look to managers for organizational information and to set clear expectations.

So, how do you successfully lead change?

In a brief video, Hayagreeva (Huggy) Rao, professor of organizational behavior in our Graduate School of Business, provides a practical guide to leading organizational change where he highlights a leader’s role in developing a specific plan that emphasizes flexibility and energizes employees.

As a manager, it’s important to have a clear understanding of the various roles you must play in times of change. Prosci, a leading organization in benchmarking research and change management, outlines five key roles that can greatly influence your change effort.

  1. CommunicatorCommunicate with your team about change
    Employees want to hear about organizational changes directly from you as their direct manager. They also want to understand the details, purpose and direct impact of the change.
  2. Advocate – Exhibit support for the change
    In addition to direct communication, employees look to you to gauge their level of support for the change initiative. If you passively support or resist a change, how can you expect your team to get on board? You’ve heard the saying, “walk the walk, and talk the talk.” Make sure your actions clearly demonstrate your support.
  3. CoachSupport employees through the change process
    The impact of changes to the day-to-day work of your staff can be tough. By working together, you can help employees work through road blocks that can lead to a successful change effort.

  4. LiaisonEngage with and provide support to the project team
    In many cases, you are the link between employees and a change initiative project team. This places you in the position to provide input and share concerns or ideas expressed by your employees to the project team, relay relevant and timely information back to your groups, and identify and raise any concerns during project implementation.
  5. Resistance managerIdentify and manage resistance
    Managers are positioned to best identify an employee who is struggling with the change, and actively address their concerns (given the tools and resources) accordingly.

Communicating change to employees, helping them make changes to their necessary tasks or behaviors, and to feel part of the larger organization are all important change leadership actions.

Tools and Resources

Stanford offers valuable resources and tools (some at no cost) to support your change management efforts:

  • – All employees can use the training videos in this powerhouse website, which web authenticates your login. Search for ‘Leading Change’ or under the Library menu, navigate to ‘M’ and select ‘Management,’ then search from there. Consider videos on understanding the foundations of change management or leading organizational change. Visit the University IT Lynda page to log in.
  • CEB Corporate Leadership Council (CLC) – Find online research-based white papers, tools, templates, such as its Manager’s Guide for Communicating During Change or numerous PowerPoint presentations on dozens of topics, and a special Manager Resources portal. Any employee with an ‘’ or ‘’ email address can request a free account and access the materials: Visit the CLC login  and complete the information in the First Time User section. 

​For more resources and information on managing organizational change, visit the Manage & Lead resources section of the Cardinal at Work website. 


Manage & Lead