Preparing teams for change - how to motivate your team during transition

By Alice Driscoll

Sep 20, 2021

Before we can lead our teams and organisations through successful transformational change, we need to take time to lay the groundwork for change.

Before we can lead our teams and organisations through successful transformational change, we need to take the time to lay the groundwork for change.  If we overlook this crucial first-step we significantly reduce our chances of the transition happening.  When it comes to organisational change, the old adage ‘fail to prepare, prepare to fail’ is on point.  and that’s because at its heart, successful transformation relies on everyone (or at the very least the vast majority)playing their part in actively making change happen.

Prochaska and Diclemente (1977) provide us with this research backed model of change, and as leaders we need to anticipate that we, and our teams will needed to be guided (not rushed) through the stages.

The five stages of change

Our job as leaders is to first and foremost engage the whole organisation and prime their motivation for the change to come. Here are four evidence-based ways leaders can increase others motivation and readiness for change:

Bring the vision to life

Start at the end - paint the picture of the future destination to help people see why the change is important, and why it will be worth striving for when times get tough. You’re aiming to land an inspired and aspirational overview of all the things that will be possible inthis brave new world and how they will individually benefit from the opportunities that you’re all creating together of next (insert time frame).  

Then, (and this is justas important), you need to clearly visualise what the version of the future isif nothing changes and we stay exactly as we are today.  This likely, will not be a pretty picture.

Communicate the crucial and valuable role they will play

 Your team need to know that you are dependent on them for a successful transformation.  That every one of them plays a critical role if you are going to succeed.  This is a time for humility, you can outline the vision but you cannot deliver the transformation single handedly, only guide it as a leader.  


Be optimistic

It’s likely that the transformation you are embarking on is going to be a challenge and you might be wondering if you’re going to pull it off, with the team you have.   But research shows that we are all incredibly sensitive to others’ belief in our capability and this has a direct impact on our performance. In short, if we believe they can, they might.  If we believe they can’t, they probably won’t.  

Choose to believe in others faculty to deliver the change  and in doing so, build their confidence in what’s possible (and thus increase the chances of success).

Create space for ambivalence

Finally, your team will likely have mixed feelings about the change initially. They might be anxious about whether the change is a good thing overall, or concerned about their ability to personally create the change.  

 It’s important to remember that ambivalence to change is not fixed or problematic - in fact, it's a natural stage we all go through just before we are ready to plan for change.  So planning for ambivalence and creating the time and space for people to share concerns is critical to managing and over coming them.

The research around behaviour change tells us that creating the conditions for change is the deciding factor in change being successful, and these four suggestions are designed to get you thinking about how to go about doing just that.

 If you would like to find out more about how I support my clients lead transformational change, contact me here:


Resources on this topic:

Psych Central - Shifting Behavior with the ‘Stages of Change’

Harvard Business Review - 4 Tips for Managing Organizational Change