Five Strategies to Help Members Better Manage Change

Burright_help members manage change April 19, 2022 By: Heather Burright

Change is never easy, as we all know. But there are ways leaders can position change to get members on board and headed in the right direction. Here are five easy tips for successfully implementing change.

In early 2020, I was working from home, building a business, supporting a kindergartener with remote learning, and sending my essential-worker husband off into the unknown world of the pandemic.

I was overwhelmed, frustrated, afraid, and burned out. My story is not unique.

Associations are filled with members who are operating at or above capacity. Over the past couple of years, we have faced the fear of losing a loved one, frustration with working while supporting our children with remote school, and concern over the divisive climate we find ourselves in. Many are at the point of burnout—or well beyond it.

What does this have to do with change management?

As leaders, we can apply some basic change-management principles to support our members in navigating their daily experiences more effectively and ultimately minimize burnout

Change is inevitable, and it seems like a constantly running faucet right now. While you may be able to delay some changes, you won’t be able to eliminate them entirely. Using the ADKAR model to implement a necessary change can help eliminate confusion, ease the burden of the change, and support your members.

Here’s how:

Awareness. People need to be aware of what’s changing and why.

  • Be transparent about the need for the change and any potential implications. What prompted the change? How will it affect members?
  • When possible, engage members in the change and allow them to share their own thoughts about the modification with other members publicly. This can be done through website communications, email, or webinars.

Without being aware of the change, members will continue to operate the way they always have.

 As leaders, we can apply some basic change-management principles to support our members in navigating their daily experiences more effectively and ultimately minimize burnout. 

Desire. People need to be motivated to change and finding the motivation is tricky when many of us are already experiencing change fatigue.

  • Tap into members’ intrinsic motivations by answering the question, “What’s in it for me?”
  • Leverage extrinsic motivation when appropriate. For example, set up incentives to perform the new task, use the new process, complete the new training, and more.

Without motivation to change, members may become resentful and even begin complaining about the association to colleagues.

Knowledge. People need to know how to change.

  • Be clear about your expectations for members.
  • Communicate the change more than once. Sending one email alone is not enough. Consider using different methods, such as email and social media, and different techniques, such as process flows and case studies.

Without clear, consistent communications, members will be confused or may experience an increased number of starts and stops, which leads to frustration and stress.

Ability. People need to have the necessary skills to change. Telling someone to change doesn’t work if they don’t have the skills they need.

  • Create training to build the skills your members need to implement the change.
  • Provide follow-up support as members begin implementing the change.

Without the right skills, members will be left frustrated, and they may begin to doubt themselves or the change being made.

Reinforcement. People need to be willing to sustain the change long-term.

  • Share quantitative data on how many members have made the transition.
  • Share qualitative data on the positive impact the change has had on those members.
  • Recognize members who have effectively implemented the change.

Without reinforcements, members may be tempted to revert to the old way of doing things, especially when they are already overwhelmed.

Following the ADKAR model ensures members are clear on what the change is and why it’s happening, incentivizes members to make the change, provides the information and the skill-building opportunities needed to transform, and celebrates those who agree to participate in the change.

This helps prevent additional stress, frustration, and doubt—all emotions that can exacerbate burnout—and instead creates clarity and confidence about the change.

Heather Burright

Heather Burright is founder of Skill Masters Market in Chicago.