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5 strategies for business leaders to guide their teams through change — Scott Mautz

Initiating change can be challenging for everyone, but, as leaders, business owners can find it even more difficult to guide their employees throughout developments in a business’s growth. Scott Mautz is the founder of Profound Performance, a keynote, training, and coaching company, and the author of the best-selling book “Leading from the Middle.” On this episode of The Small Business Show, Mautz joins anchor Jim Fitzpatrick to discuss how entrepreneurs can plan and execute change as leaders.

Humans are naturally apprehensive towards change. We are unprotected during new experiences our defense mechanisms can only guard us from things we have already encountered. Without the preparation needed to tackle new challenges, our survival instincts kick in, leaving us only two options: fight or flight. Mautz explains that this natural reaction is why, “70% of change initiatives fail.” As  leaders, entrepreneurs must help their employees overcome their anxiety, or else their business’s growth will stall.

So what can we do to navigate change? Mautz believes that the answer lies in communication. By leveraging communication tactics to equip their employees with the motivation or skills to overcome their apprehension, entrepreneurs can lead their teams through any unfamiliar circumstance. To this end, Mautz offers five strategies.

1. Treat communication as a strategy

By outlining the process for communicating and leading their employees through change before it happens, business leaders can completely protect their employees from that uncomfortable survival instinct. “Have a plan for communicating in times of change,” explains Mautz.

2. Answer the change burning questions

During times of transformation, employees will often come to their managers for guidance. To lead their teams successfully, business owners should be prepared to give answers. Mautz notes that there are five main change burning questions. “What’s changing?” “Why by when?” “How will it affect me?” “How will I know if I’m doing ok” and “Will you support me?”

3. Share a change message track

A message track is a list of key talking points which business leaders can use to remind their employees of an objective, and their associated role. Mautz notes that many workers need to hear such points at least ten times before they actually engage and understand how they fit into the plan, which is why he encourages entrepreneurs to repeat their change message track often.

4. Feel commitment to the change

“You have to feel commitment to the change, not just compliance,” explains Mautz. Good business leaders not only communicate their goals and objectives, they also inspire and motivate their employees to get behind their ideas by including them in the process. Doing so requires empathy; an understanding of what workers need. Teams which share a sense of commitment with their manager will always excel, but entrepreneurs who fail to make their workers feel safe, involved and accountable will always fall behind their goals.

5. Show employees how to change

Successful entrepreneurs lead by example. By providing a visible framework for their employees, business owners can lighten the burden they bear during times of change. “The truth is, most people don’t dislike the change itself, it’s the transition in change that is so painful for them,” Mautz explains.

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Anna Delvillar is the editorial coordinator and a staff writer at ASBN. She graduated with a B.A. in English Composition from Georgia State University and has five years of experience developing content strategy and writing for automotive, tech, and small business media.

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