From the Experts: How to Manage and Navigate Change

How to manage and navigate change

There are many essential skills that are needed to effectively lead. One of those skills is change leadership. In a business landscape that is seeing more change than ever before, today’s leaders must develop the right skills and tools to manage, navigate, and lead change. We asked our experts what kind of mindset leaders need to develop to lead through change, as well as how they can effectively communicate change in a way where all stakeholders fully embrace it.


Answers From the Experts:

Lyn Turknett,
Co-founder and Co-chair, TLG

What type of mindset is required to manage and navigate change?

The same qualities that help all of us expect, navigate, and even enjoy change – being curious, open, questioning, collaborative, agile and adaptable – help us whether we are managing change or navigating unexpected change.

We were consulting in large organizations when the first waves of downsizing occurred in the 1990s. There had been a somewhat unspoken contract between employer and employee – “if I’m loyal to you, you will be loyal to me” – and suddenly that was broken. Richard McKnight, writing in Training and Development in 1991, introduced a way of thinking about ourselves that can help us build resilience. He said that we can see ourselves in one of three ways, and the mindset we create makes all the difference.

  1. We can see ourselves as a VICTIM, blaming others and feeling powerless and singled out for mistreatment.
  2. We can see ourselves as at SURVIVOR, keeping a “fighting spirit,” possibly blaming higher-ups but still working hard.
  3. We can see ourselves as a NAVIGATOR, capable and valuable, able to affect our own destiny and willing to ask for what we need.

No matter what our position in the organization, seeing ourselves as valuable, capable, humble (willing to listen and learn from others) and confident (willing to assert our own views) will make us much better change navigators.


How do you effectively communicate change to all levels of an organization so that employees embrace that change?

Certainly good, open, transparent communication helps, but from what I’ve seen in forty years of consulting is that no amount of “effective communication” can “make” people embrace a change. When at all possible, leaders need to involve employees – and all stakeholders – in change from the beginning for it to be really effective.

Of course, when the unforeseen happens – the dotcom crash, the 9/11 attacks, the pandemic – rapid, top-down change is often necessary to save the organization. Leaders who are empathetic and transparent in explaining the situation make a big difference. The worst leaders in those situations sit in their office and worry; the best leaders let the remaining employee base know repeatedly exactly what the situation is and what is being done and why. If there are layoffs, they explain how decisions were made and what was done to help those who are gone. They communicate frequently with messages and town halls. And they find ways to involve everyone in appreciating the past and creating the future.

In most situations, though, it’s easy to involve others. My two favorite change quotes are these:

    1. From the amazing systems thinker Peter Senge: “People don’t resist change; they resist being changed.” Humans are remarkably open to change; they often seek it. And even a cursory review of the massive change people adapted to at the beginning of the pandemic shows how resilient and resourceful we can be.
    2. Include me, I’m your partner; exclude me, I’m your judge.” I don’t know who said this, but it is so, so true. I also believe there is an even better reason to include other brains in plans for change – you will get a better result.

To read Lyn’s full article on the three levels of change, click here.

Laurie Arron,
Strategic Partner, TLG

What type of mindset is required to manage and navigate change?

Change is a constant companion, weaving its way through our lives. From shifting circumstances at work to unexpected twists in our personal lives, change is an inevitable force that shapes us and our journey. And it often arrives uninvited, disrupting our routines and challenging our comfort zones. Yet, at its core, I’ve learned over the years for myself that change is a catalyst for growth and successful change navigators know that all too well.

These navigators possess a unique mindset that equips them to weather the storms of transformation. They embrace adaptability, understanding that rigidity can hinder progress. They cultivate resilience, bouncing back from setbacks with renewed determination. Their open-mindedness allows them to see change as a chance to explore new avenues and ideas. They understand that constant learning is part of this journey.

AND more often than not, they are the ones who initiate change and act as the change-makers who steer organizations toward success with a fearless sense of innovation.

How do you effectively communicate change to all levels of an organization so that employees embrace that change?

Successfully communicating change to all levels of an organization requires an intentional and nuanced approach. First, it’s important to present a clear and compelling vision for the change that aligns with the organization’s goals and values and have the leadership team actively support and communicate it to their teams.

At the higher levels of leadership, the emphasis should be on the strategic implications and overall benefits of the change. Frequent communication is essential at this level to ensure that leadership teams are aligned and can consistently communicate the change to their respective teams.

When it comes to the broader employee base, the focus should shift to explaining how the change will impact day-to-day work and what support and tools will be available. Communication should still be regular but can be less frequent than with senior leadership, as long as it is clear and informative. Always encourage open dialogue, provide necessary training, and celebrate milestones to build momentum and ensure that everyone embraces and supports the change. Always good to weave in recognition as well – it not only boosts morale but also demonstrates the positive impact of the change.

Brad ParcellsBrad Parcells, PCC,
Senior Consultant, TLG

What type of mindset is required to manage and navigate change?

From my experience as an executive coach and also leading organizations, I find the following characteristics of the proper mindset that helps leaders and others navigate change are: Courage, conviction, curiosity, presence, mindfulness, and resilience.

How do you effectively communicate change to all levels of an organization so that employees embrace that change?

Communicating any topic like change while being impactful and influential is about crafting a powerful message by following these steps:

  1. Determine the Who. Who is your audience, why are they here, and what do they care about?
  2. Work on your What. What do you want the audience to know, think, feel, say, and do as a result of hearing your message?
  3. Work on your How. How can you craft and deliver the message in a way that helps you achieve your goal?

All great storytellers begin with the end in mind. Here are a few additional things to consider when communicating change:

  • Tell a story and share the vision and always be honest.
  • Provide clarity and keep your messaging team focused – provide the why and chart the path.
  • Regularly communicate messaging in multiple settings: town halls, small groups, one-to-one meetings and target specific messages to each audience.
  • Always provide an opportunity for others to ask questions and provide feedback.


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