Leading Through Change: Tips for People Managers

Version 4

    I’m writing today's blog post from the Bangkok airport, just before I get my flight back to London. I’ve spent a great week out here with some of my Google colleagues training a bunch of our partner organisations from across Asia on how they can use our change management and transformation methodologies to help their customers be successful.

    Today I wanted to share some tips with you all about how managers at your organisations can help to drive change and adoption of Google Apps.

    Middle managers are one of the most critical groups within an organisation in helping to drive change and adoption of Google Apps successfully. They can also be one of the biggest blockers. The reason for this is that they are the closest to employees who are impacted by the change and their personal approach to the change therefore has a direct impact on the way that their teams will feel about, and deal with the change themselves.

    If a manager of a big team is not supportive of using Google Drive or Hangouts for example, I would put money on the fact that the people that report into that manager are unlikely to adopt those tools either.

    One of the main challenges that managers face is that they’ve often not been involved in making the decision to move to Google - but they are expected to help make the change a success. And often they aren't equipped with the relevant change leadership skills, or don’t have insight into how influential their own behaviour can be on that of their teams.

    I want to share with you my suggestions some guidelines about the roles of people managers during change, and then cover what type of support individuals typically need from managers as they go through the stages of their personal transition

    Managers have five distinct roles to take on during times of change:

    1. Communicator about the reasons for the move to Google Apps
    2. Advocate about the benefits of the tools
    3. Coach to help embed knowledge and ability with using tools
    4. Resistance Manager
    5. Connection with project team and innovation council

    The Manager’s Role


    Negative implications if this role is not fulfilled?


    Talk about the change in all team meetings and 1:1 meetings to ensure that everyone understands the benefits of Google Apps and why the organisation made the move to Google

    -  Employees lack awareness of why they should use Google Apps

    -  Employees display resistance to using Google Apps


    Lead by example by using Drive, Docs and Hangouts to share team information, to host team meetings and to run projects

    -  Employees follow the negative example set by the manager

    -  Employees do not see Google Apps as important


    Help team members understand how Google Apps can be useful for them. Share tips and tricks and use cases that are relevant to team functioning and success

    -  Employees may struggle during the transition to Google Apps

    -  Employee productivity may decline

    Resistance manager

    Encourage employees to share feedback and their challenges with Google Apps so that additional training or support can be offered. Remind employees of the importance of the move to Google Apps and what the benefits are

    -  Employees do not have an outlet for surfacing objections

    -  Resistance may persist

    Connection with project team and innovation council

    Share feedback from team members with the project team or Innovation Council so that advanced training can be offered, or transformation labs can be delivered to help the team increase adoption and to find use cases that will benefit them

    -  Project team / Innovation Council will not have an accurate view of impact on employees

    -  They will not know if the change is being implemented effectively

    - The full value of Google Apps will not be realised within the organisation

    People also need different types of support as they progress along their own personal transition curve. This applies both to people going through an initial switch to Google Apps, and also for those people going through changes to their workflows that might be the result of process reengineering and more collaborative working following a team transformation lab. Every change that we experience results in a set of emotions and takes some time to adjust to. You might remember me talking about the stages of personal transition in previous blog posts.

    Here are my tips for people managers about what they should focus on doing to coach their team members through each stages of their personal transition. It is important to remember that people do deal with change at their own pace. So at any one time a manager may well have people in their team that are at different stages of their personal transition.

    You might note that I highlighted 'leading by example' in every single stage - this is because it really is the most influential activity that a people manager can do.

    Lastly don’t forget to share all the learning resources which exist that people manager would benefit from having access to - both to help them on their own personal transition to fully using Google Apps, but also so that they have tips and resources that they can share with team members and can use to help coaching others through the change:

    Learn.GoogleApps.Com - for training and tips on how to use all the products

    Transformation Gallery - database of use cases that managers could use to inspire them to improve some of their team processes

    The Apps Show - weekly video of end user tips and tricks on products and use cases

    In my experience with deployments and post go-live adoption projects, people managers are a group that often aren’t given any special attention, but if you do give them the tools to help drive change - they can have a massive positive impact on the success of the rest of the users adopting new ways of working. Giving managers insight into the psychology of change such as the stages of personal transition mentioned in this post will give them the reassurance that having team members experience emotions about a change is completely normal and expected. And also that there are specific things that they can do to help people move along the transition curve.

    Please do share this with your people managers and let me know if they find it useful or not.

    I’d love some feedback!

    Thanks all.