Changes are part of life. Handle them with ease with this change checklist.

So, we are down one man at our house. Our family of four is now operating as a family of three. Our oldest child is off to college and seems to be doing well. And we’re adjusting to the change well at home too. Then why am I sad? Simple: I miss him.

Turns out, even when a change is for the best and you follow the checklist, it can still be hard. Change has an emotional component that can result in unusual behavior.

A few weeks ago, I caught myself being giddy when our 11th grader asked me to help him with the cutting and gluing portion of a homework assignment. Last weekend, I even baked some cookies and mailed them to the freshmen dorm. Recently, I scrubbed the refrigerator with a vengeance. Gasp! Who am I?

Below is some advice on how to handle change.

Be ready for unusual behavior

Like a change in the family, a change in the workplace also has emotional components. As a leader of transformation, it’s important to know this: Be sure your plan includes the essential change management work streams – such as coordinated communication and training.

When going through changes get yourself and your leadership team acquainted with what resistance looks like and the best ways to address it. Let stakeholders know you expect there to be issues you can’t predict. Assure them that you are ready to address them as they surface, and course-correct as necessary.

Do your best to be aware of what you’re going through

I find that with each week that passes, I’m getting used to our new normal. After all, this change is in line with our family vision, and we’re doing great.

Plus, it’s a just a few more weeks until “Parents Weekend.”

Change Checklist

Surface and address the emotional elements of a change

  1. Communication – acknowledge the emotions. You need a communication strategy and plan to ensure consistent messaging. Make sure your message acknowledges the emotions that come with change. This shows you care. When employees know you care, they can endure the hard work that comes with change.
  2. Training – supplement with coaching. You need a training assessment, strategy and plan. Include measuring training effectiveness and supplemental support in the plan. Often the supplemental support comes in the form of coaching for those who are anxious about their ability to master new skills.
  3. Resistance – watch for it and address. Watch for resistance. Learn how to identify it and compassionately address it. Don’t ignore resistance. It won’t go away on its own. It will slow down or derail your progress.
  4. Feedback – listen to understand. Be careful to not confuse concern-raising with resistance. You want to create an environment where those impacted by a change are encouraged to raise concerns and issues. Catching something early can help you avoid expensive re-work.
  5. Engagement – leverage your informal leaders. Identify employees who are known to be informal leaders. Get them involved in the planning. For example, involve them with reviewing requirements for a new system or in User Acceptance Testing. Then when it’s time to roll out the change, have them shift into a role where they can be a resource for others.
  6. Reward and recognition – celebrate accomplishments. Plan a celebration. Communicate the date early. Engage some employees in the planning of it to get the buzz out there. This sends the message that the hard work being done is, and will continue to be appreciated.

Originally published on LinkedIn.

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