How to Help Employees Adapt to Change

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Change is inevitable, and in today’s rapidly evolving business landscape, small businesses must learn to adapt quickly to stay competitive. But how can you help your employees be ready and willing to embrace the inevitable? Change management is the key.

The Importance of Change Management for Small Businesses

Change management focuses on helping business owners address the people side of change. Whether it’s implementing new procedures and processes, hiring new supervisors, moving to a new location, or restructuring a department, change can be tough on you and on your people.

As a small business owner spearheading significant changes in your company, your team members look to you as the leader. When change coming, employees expect you to help them navigate uncharted territory by anticipating and planning for potential roadblocks, creating an environment where they feel comfortable expressing their feelings, and offering solutions to help them cope.

Tips to Help Your Employees Adapt to Change

Start With Trust

You’ve likely built a culture of trust within your small business by navigating the day-to-day details and changes. Use what you’ve built —even simply reassuring your employees that you have their best interest at heart can make all the difference. When your team knows they can trust you to make the right decisions on an ordinary workday, they’ll be more likely to follow you during times of uncertainty.

Share Your Story

Using facts and figures may satisfy your team’s logical side to accepting change, but their emotional side needs to hear your story to get an idea of the future vision. Give positive examples of how the transition can improve their current situation and share new opportunities for specific individuals to grow.

Communicate Your Vision and the Why Behind the Change

If your employees understand that change constantly happens in a small business, they’re more likely to accept and embrace transitions when they happen. You can help your employees adapt to change by clearly communicating your vision early on. Use plain English to explain why it’s necessary, and make sure everyone understands the goals and strategies you have in mind to make it successful.

group of people in an office having a meeting

Understand that Change Often Equals Grief

Adapting to change can be difficult for many of us, and it’s normal to feel some resistance or even a sense of grief. The human reaction to change follows the same stages as the grief cycle. As a business owner and leader, the goal is to help your team navigate the process as quickly as possible. People will go through the five stages of grief at different times and at different speeds but they’ll go through every stage, just as you did when you first realized you had to change:

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Depression
  4. Searching for solutions
  5. Acceptance

Knowing these stages can help you anticipate how your employees may react and offer them the support they need.

Remind Employees They Still Have Influence

Fear of change can be a huge barrier for some, leading to anxiety and stress. One way to ease the transition is to provide your team with a sense of agency. Every employee has a certain degree of control, even in rapidly changing environments. Encourage your team to voice their concerns and engage in dialogue instead of a monologue. Talk to them about what they can influence and help them understand how their actions can impact the results.


Effective communication is vital during times of change. Make sure you know which stage of grief your employees may be experiencing. Some may be in denial or have feelings of anger, while others may be in acceptance or even see the change as an opportunity. Allow your employees to express their feelings with you and support them as they adjust to the new reality.

Recognize Employee Resilience

To help your employees adapt to changes today, remind them of times they adjusted well previously. Recognizing resilience will give your employees the confidence to face any current or future transitions with motivation and hope.

Celebrate Successes

Be vocal about celebrating your team’s progress throughout the transition. If you notice an employee going above and beyond to help their coworkers, reward them with a gift card to their favorite coffee shop or restaurant.

Designate a Leader to Ease the Transition

Maybe the change is large enought that you need to designte a leader or project manager. Having a leader ensures that your employees have someone knowledgeable to turn to when problems arise during a transition. Select a key member of your leadership team to help create a sense of stability and security. That way, your employees can stay focused and motivated. The appointed leader should also take an open and collaborative approach when making decisions and act as the first point of contact for the team.

If your organization has experienced growth over the last few years, it’s common to find that key leaders aren’t delivering the same level of performance they once did—but business coaching can help.

Learn More

Master Change Management With Leadership Training for Small Business Owners

Are you a small business owner trying to master the art of change management? If so, business coaching can help you get there. At Inspire Results Business Coaching, our leadership training for small business owners never includes abstract concepts—we work with your specific needs and challenges, providing tailored solutions specific to your small business changes. When you partner with us, our experienced coaches help you create unique, practical change management strategies that are easy to implement, so you can start seeing improvements immediately. Contact us today to learn more about our leadership training for small business owners.

Inspire Results Business Coaching

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