Teams going through change: How united is your pack?


We know that change is tough for our human brain, we know that it takes time to transition through a change and we know that most large-scale changes fail1. So, what do you do as a team to keep going and thrive in change? For me, it comes down to team unity – that feeling where the team has each other’s backs and becomes an undisputable force that continues to perform in a volatile, changing environment.

When describing the concept of team unity to clients, I often use the analogy of a wolf pack. So, these are my top tips for uniting your pack:

1. Create mini rapport building sessions:

Leading up to, and regularly throughout the change, carry out rapport building exercises. These will strengthen each relationship, and the more we understand one another, the more we can appreciate and empathise with them during change. We are pack animals and seek to fit in, if individuals feel that they aren’t in the pack they will feel more vulnerable and resistant during change.

2. Talk about the elephant in the room:

Elephants can hurt the pack and are a big problem. Create a safe environment to hear the good, the bad and the ugly. Asking emotive questions, such as, what is exciting about this change? What is terrifying or frustrating about this change? Doing this in a group forum will ease people’s worries and increase open forum communication, feeling safe to talk as a pack will fuel progression through transition.

3. Create a capture wall:

Turn the communal area, or lunch/break area into a capture wall. As all animals wolfpacks create a safe base to rest and recuperate. Theme the wall and leave markers behind to prompt the team to air their thoughts. Coffee station conversations are often the best way to capture thoughts as our minds are away from daily tasks and autopilot.

4. Create shared ownership:

Make small groups in the team to champion a certain subject or theme of the change. If various team members lead the change in short bursts it can strengthen skills and increase care for the change/pack.  By giving responsibility and empowering members of the team, it places them in an important informal status position, encouraging our natural behaviour to please and be accepted.

As you can tell, many of the tips are communication centred. This is because we know that our brain isn’t great at holding stress and problems. Talking out loud can help us navigate through our challenges.

The best teams recognise that opinions don’t define a person, they openly air their thoughts and listen to one another. Team unity is achievable through conversation and will make the lonely rough seas of change seem like a smooth Gondola ride in Venice!


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