Five roles managers can take on to navigate workplace changes

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Five roles managers can take on to navigate workplace changes - Managers can help guide employees through what can be emotional changes in the workplace by keeping in mind five roles they should take on. - Christin Klose/dpa

The coronavirus has forced many employees around the world to quickly adapt to new and unfamiliar work environments.

But pandemic or not, it's increasingly important for managers to develop the ability to guide workers through what can be emotional changes in the workplace, say labour experts.

Below, Germany's Institute of Applied Industrial Engineering and Ergonomics (ifaa) lays outs the different roles that managers should be expected to play to fulfil such a task:

\- Messenger: In announcing changes, managers should convey that they are unavoidable and highlight their urgency. The challenge here is leaving out emotions and not taking things personally.

\- Listener: Create a space where employees can talk about their feelings and then deal with them - perhaps through a workshop focused on finding concrete solutions to the issues at hand.

\- Visionary: Playing this role requires overcoming any resistance or costs of change by conveying the team goal in an attractive light. It requires sharing a vision that allows employees to see how changes will benefit their own work.

\- Trainer: It's important to prepare the team as much as possible for change by explaining contexts, defining concrete tasks and then distributing them. Breaking the overall goal into smaller parts can go a long way in motivating employees.

\- Role model: When implementing changes, managers should set a good example. Giving praise for initial successes can help inspire confidence when employees might be unsure of things. Managers can gradually reduce their level of control in order to allow employees to take on more personal responsibility.

A prerequisite for making sure such changes go successfully is that employees trust their managers, according to the experts. This also means allowing mistakes to be made from time to time.