What can we do to help manage through change and ambiguity?

Nebel Crowhurst

Nebel Crowhurst, Director of HR and Communications at Roche Diabetes Care provides three areas to focus on to help handle change successfully. Nebel is presenting at the CIPD Developing Line Managers Conference which takes place on 27-28 November 2019 in London. Book your ticket today.




I often use the analogy of “fit your own oxygen mask first, before helping others” when reminding line managers that if they aren’t fighting fit themselves, they can’t role model and support their people [having spent much of my career in the airline industry it’s always been a fitting reference!] 

Line managers have a tough gig, they need to deliver on their own workloads, take direction from senior leadership, provide direction to their people, and make sure their teams are running efficiently. So, when do they make time for themselves? I often challenge line managers to reflect on the last time they did something to support their own career development, their resilience and their emotional agility – more often than not they dedicate little time to themselves and overlook the negative impact this has not only on themselves, but also on the people around them and the teams they lead. 

Change is a constant and line managers need to be ready to deal with continuous ambiguity – this isn’t new and it’s certainly not going away. 


What can we do to help manage through change and ambiguity?


Mindset and attitude: It all starts with having the right attitude to change, being open minded, and being confident in experimenting with new approaches. Teams take the lead from line managers and demonstrating an openness to change will help people to feel comfortable in dealing with whatever is ahead. Don’t fall foul of the ‘Victim Mindset’ and look out for some of the warning signs. People in this frame of mind will tend to believe everything is everyone else’s fault, and they default into cynicism and pessimism. They will often have a ‘life is against me’ philosophy and even when things go well they will look for the negatives. 


Health: Keeping fit and healthy comes in many guises. Of course, physical health is vital, but it’s all too easy to forget to proactively keep our emotional, psychological and spiritual health in check too. Emotional self-care can be developed through finding mechanisms to manage stress effectively and understanding how to best navigate the emotions we feel. This can sometimes be hard to assess, however using tools like Emotional Intelligence assessments can help to highlight areas which need development. Growing psychological self-care through learning news skills, engaging in creativity and practicing mindfulness exercises is hugely beneficial to having strong emotional agility. Spiritual self-care connects into our core beliefs and values systems, pursuing personal life goals and striving to live by the values we believe.    


Role model curiosity: As leadership traits go, Curiosity is one that can take you a long way. Curiosity encourages teams to generate new ideas, experiment with innovative approaches and fundamentally helps people to be more prepared for working in uncertain environments. Encouraging teams, to ask questions, challenge the status quo [respectfully of course] and to feel empowered to test and learn safely will ultimately deliver more results. The concept of using some of the core principles of Agile or Scrum ways of working is an approach which build a culture of natural curiosity and growth. Agile working practices reinforces a culture of self-direction and empowerment, as well as collaboration and faster results. 


Nebel is presenting in the case study titled “Equipping line managers to succeed during change and transformation” at the CIPD Developing Line Managers Conference which takes place on 27-28 November 2019 in London. Book your ticket today.