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Proactive leadership through change is essential

Change has become the norm, but how well are you doing it?

The survey results highlighted the benefits of being proactive, particularly through times of change. 65% of those who work in proactive businesses are most likely to stay. It raises issues around leading through change, particularly when it comes to staff transitions, new systems, restructures, job redesign and achievable change. Overall, one in four people felt that change wasn’t managed well in their businesses. Leaders must manage the change, otherwise the change will manage them.

What is the difference between being a proactive vs reactive change leader?

Reactive change management occurs when leaders don’t have time to plan, or they simply ignore the first signs of workplace issues. This can lead to problems operating in a ‘firefighting mode’. That way of managing may be effective in managing a crisis, but in the long term, it is inefficient, stressful, and expensive. Proactive leadership encourages employees to be part of the change and ensures they are supported by their managers and leaders who understand the realities of their role. Proactive leadership sometimes requires initiating change and having good planning skills to avoid, or manage, future problems. It pays to be mindful that operationalising change adds significant workload, so what are you able to move when middle management or employees are taking on this work?

What can you do?

  • Ask yourself how many compromises are undermining a high performing culture in your business?
  • What does a timely response look like? Not just for change, but even when it comes to microaggressions.
  • Who is responsible for change in your business? Are they trained in managing change, and do they understand the implications that impact frontline and middle management?
  • What is the impact of change on workplace dynamics and workflow?
  • Ask yourself, do your people have the skills for what you’re asking them to deliver on if they were recruited for other reasons?
  • Be open to ideas – your employees are often your best information source.
  • Seek out the root of a problem. ‘Why?’ can give you a good indication of how big or small a problem is, why it’s an issue, and why it came up now.
  • Allocate more time and resources to develop, train and mentor your team.

Practical Solutions and Resources

FREE Resources for EMA Members

To access these resources, login using your EMA Member account.

FREE Digital Library with First Steps

Through First Steps, and available to members and non-members, you have free access to the small to medium business-focused Workplace Wellbeing Risk Diagnostic Tool, and a range of e-Learning and resources.

Assess how your organisation is coping with their wellbeing and to identify key areas to develop as an organisation.

Free Digital Learning:

Building capabilities


Digital Learning

Change Toolkit:
Preparing for a change process can be overwhelming, but if not enough preparation is done before embarking on the consultation process, it could affect the success of the change implementation. It is important to engage stakeholders, continually manage feedback and communicate the change effectively to help people feel more comfortable as they move to the future state and adopt new ways of working.

Our Change Toolkit includes the following 6 documents:

  • Building the business case for change
  • Change Process – Consultation point
  • Stakeholder Analysis and RASCI template
  • Change Communication Plan template
  • Building a Change Communication Plan
  • Managing resistance to change


The Ultimate Team Leader
If you’re currently working as a team leader, supervisor or manager, or aiming to become one, this extensive programme is ideal. It’s the perfect investment for any team leader wanting to build and lead powerful teams within their organisation.
Puzzle People Communication Model
Working well with different people can be a challenge. This half-day course will teach you how to recognise and respond to different communication and behavioural styles. The course begins before the classroom session with everyone completing an eLearning module which takes about 20 minutes. In this module learners complete a self-assessment to discover their personal puzzle make-up and begin to learn about the four communication styles.
Project Management – Maximising Performance
Managing projects is part of running any business or organisation. Managing change can become a project in itself. With projects it is often a race to deliver, rather than a well-constructed process designed to maximise productivity and effectiveness. This workshop will arm you with the tools and techniques to maximise project performance, giving you real expertise in project management.
Skills Analysis

Do your people have the skills you’re asking them to deliver on? Are all of their skills being utilised effectively? If they were recruited for different reasons or for a different position, there may be a skill miss-match. Learn how to identify skill gaps and under-utilised skills and enable everyone to reach their potential. 

Customised Option Only. For more information on this customised course, please contact learn@ema.co.nz