The union for health and care managers

Home  >  News & Campaigns  >  Features  >  Tipster: Managing change in your team
Friday 25 March 2016

Managing change in your team

By Matt Ross

Many health organisations have spent years undergoing constant change – and it isn’t over yet. Here’s some advice for team leaders.

Tipster_2016-03-22_Change Management_Cartoon

1. Explain the vision

Before embracing change, people must understand why the status quo is untenable, see the ultimate goal as desirable for them and their team, and believe the planned change can be delivered. So explain clearly the risks of leaving things as they are, the benefits of the target model and how you will address the obstacles hindering change.

2. Understand people’s reactions

Make allowances if people at first express shock, rejection or anger, and recognise their legitimate concerns. At this stage, it’s important to be honest and empathetic about the real harm people might suffer – but don’t be tempted into making promises that you may not be able to keep.

3. Set aside resources

Productivity will fall as teams change the way they work and develop the new skills required, so you may need additional support to maintain output. And you’ll need to put in plenty of time yourself – not just to deliver the change, but also to scrutinise plans and help address any potential weaknesses.

4. Cater for individuals

Everybody has their own needs in terms of explanations, information, training and support, so make sure you offer your team a range of communications and learning channels. Give people access to senior leaders and change managers, so they can ask their own questions directly.

5. Channel feedback

Your team must be actively engaged in the change project – both to help test and improve the plans, and to give them a measure of ownership and control. Feed your topical and frontline expertise back to change leaders, ensuring that they’ve considered all the potential impacts on internal and external stakeholders. Identify staff who could build their own engagement by getting more closely involved in the project.

6. Express your concerns – privately

Line managers responsible for introducing change often experience competing pressures: you may, for example, worry about losing influence, squaring your loyalties to the team and the organisation, being associated with legacy systems now being implicitly criticised, or maintaining output through a disruptive change. Be open with change leaders about these conflicts, always seeking to find ways to resolve them. If you stay quiet then people are likely to spot both your worries, and your silence.

7. Lead by example

You have a far greater influence on your team than any senior leader, communications officer or change manager. So take care not to express scepticism about the wisdom or viability of the changes, and show the way forward yourself – not just by talking up the reforms, but also by adopting any new behaviours required and personally using any new systems.

8. Be liberal with carrots

Praise and reward tend to have a greater impact on behaviour than punishment and criticism – so make sure that people involved in change projects receive recognition, and highlight early achievements or signs of improvement. Amend appraisal and promotion schemes to align them with the new skills and behaviours required.

9. But don’t forget sticks

As well as audible opposition, watch out for disengagement – it’s harder to spot, but just as damaging. And once a project is underway, don’t let one or two individuals suck the momentum out of a change that could work: people sabotaging or undermining a mature scheme should be challenged. If people are slow to get on board with change, be supportive and sympathetic – then get the big guns out.

10. Build networks

Talking regularly with other line managers will help you to spot potential risks and improvements, shape the support offered to your staff, and share ideas on implementation. Make sure change managers are involved, so that your network is seen as a catalyst of change rather than an obstacle to it. Watch out for blurred boundaries and flawed communications between teams under the emerging system: even when each team does their bit, changes can fail because essential connections haven’t been made across the organisation.

A consultant to MiP, Matt Ross is an editor, journalist and change manager.

If you'd like to read more from MiP, sign up to receive our free monthly emails – we’ll keep you up to date on news and events in health and care management

Heated conversation between man and a woman in an office

Leadership coach and former senior detective Andy Cribbin gives his tips for managers on breaking bad news and handling difficult conversations with staff and the public.

22 December 2023 | By Andy Cribbin
Woman at desk being touched by male colleague

Sexual harassment is against the law, but that doesn’t stop it happening. Josie Irwin offers her tips on recognising sexual harassment in the workplace and how to intervene effectively as a manager.

26 October 2023 | By Josie Irwin
Flock of migrant birds flying in V-formation

Workers from overseas have been part of the health and care family since the NHS began. They are valued and respected colleagues who face many extra challenges in the workplace and beyond. Katia Widlak offers her tips on recruiting, supporting, and retaining your migrant workforce.

27 July 2023 | By Katia Widlak
Drawing of figures building a framework

As a manager, you want to take responsibility for the health and wellbeing of your team. The NHS Health and Wellbeing Framework can help. Alan Lofthouse explains how to navigate the framework and start making a difference for your team – and for yourself.

24 May 2023 | By Alan Lofthouse

Do you feel you’re a fraud or that it’s just luck that you’ve got where you are? You’re not alone. Here are ten tips from life coach Jane Galloway on how to beat the Imposter Syndrome.

17 February 2023 | By Jane Galloway
Manager talking to OH mental health adviser

The pandemic has put the spotlight on the value of good occupational health services in supporting staff and delivering safe and effective services. Kim Sunley shares ten tips on for managers on how best to work with your OH service.

04 April 2022 | By Kim Sunley
Birds nest containing one-pound coins

Are you putting off thinking about your pension because you don’t know where to start? Follow these simple tips to put yourself in the picture and start making some informed decisions.

13 January 2022 | By Dale Walmsley & Craig Ryan
Homeworking icon with heart inside house

With many NHS managers working at home or moving to different roles, Claire Pullar offers her tips on how to protect your health and career during the pandemic and beyond.

04 February 2021 | By Claire Pullar
image of fist bump

Many non-black managers have been asking how they can better support black colleagues and help tackle racism in the NHS. We crowd-sourced these ten tips from the managers who took part in our Black Lives Still Matter project.

02 December 2020 | By MiP
Pensions cartoon

Dale Walmsley, who lead the popular session on pension planning at the 2019 MiP Members’ Summit, sums up his advice for managers looking towards retirement.

20 January 2020 | By Dale Walmsley
Copyright © 2022 MiP