How To Lead Through Change


Everything's always changing. There are daily changes, and then there are significant changes in processes or systems or when you lose a valued team member. We had a situation with our auditing process about compensation throughout our entire company. And while we weren't running amok, we didn't have the tight controls that we should have. We're great on flexibility and adaptability, but our processes around compensation and our payroll systems became more of an exception every week.

I had a great sit-down with our CFO, and we went through the challenges of this process. We determined it was going to be a massive change, not necessarily in a new system or technology, but in the way people thought and behaved. We had a whole company that we had allowed to behave a certain way for many, many years.

We are a very inclusive culture, meaning we want to get the opinions of everyone. We want to accommodate everyone. And because we're inclusive and accommodating, we also get everybody's input. Those sound like great words to describe the culture, and who doesn't want to join that company? However, there are unintended consequences that come with that. It takes us longer than it should to make decisions. And we’re making exceptions every minute we turned around, and those things impacted our payroll processes. It was going to be a challenge to change that behavior when we had been partners in crime for many years.

The most important thing I have learned from other wise people leading a team through change is to help employees understand the why behind the what. Why are we making this change? That's a step that I find many leaders, including myself, have skipped, thinking, well, they'll just get it or they'll do what we asked them to do because they're good people. And they will, but they're buying in at a whole different level, a much lower level, until they understand the why and the critical role they play in that why.

We took the time to ensure everybody understood the critical piece they played in the change. It was like a badge of honor. They learned why they had to approach things differently. The change is still in process and will be for many more months, but the early results have shown that people can adapt and change.

The more we can educate people throughout the change and keep that education going, including those that may be pushing back, the more likely the change will be successful.


Leading a team requires a different skillset than working as an individual contributor. To succeed in the face of new challenges, first-level leaders need to shift how they think and act. Download our latest guide and develop your people into a high-performing team. 

About the Author

Todd Davis

Todd Davis has over 30 years of experience in human resources, training and training development, executive recruiting, sales, and marketing. Todd is currently a member of the FranklinCovey Executive Team where he serves as the Chief People Officer. He is also a bestselling author with two books to his credit, Get Better: 15 Proven Practices to Build Effective Relationships at Work and Talent Unleashed: 3 Leadership Conversations for Tapping the Unlimited Potential of People.

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