Supporting Your Team Through Change: 1-2-1 Techniques

Supporting Your Team through change

The transition to remote working, along with all the changes going on in the wider world can take some time to adapt to.  We might be on the side of being quite open to change, or we might find that adapting to change doesn’t come as naturally. Furthermore, adapting to change is not always a linear process with good days and days which are a little or a lot more challenging. Therefore, it’s important to take some time to be aware of how you and others in your team naturally react to change to help communicate and support each other. Wherever  we find ourselves along this continuum there are things we can do to help ourselves and others feel more comfortable with change.

We will be focussing on how increasing and sustaining:

  1.  A realistic optimistic mindset
  2.  Belief in our own ability
  3.  A sense of autonomy

Can help us and individuals in our team specifically during times of change.

We suggest using the following as discussion topics and activities within 1-2-1’s with your direct reports and members of your team. We recommend trying them out yourself first to get a feel for how each activity works.

  1. A realistic optimistic mindset: Cultivating Optimism

Optimism is a vital ingredient for developing resilience and, and is also completely buildable even if we feel our sense of optimism is lacking in certain situations.

Three Good Things

The simple act of frequently writing down three positive things from your day can help increase our positive outlook over time.

Try this now, think of three positive things that have happened today. These could be big, small, personal or work related. Repeat this for a whole week and reflect on what the impact of this has been,

This can also work well to increase team cohesion and morale if you begin or end team meetings with individuals saying a few positive things from the day.

How do we attribute our successes?

How we attribute the good things that happen greatly influence how optimistic we can be about the future.

Are you more likely attribute a personal success, internally to your own skill/expertise or externally?

e.g. When something good happens at work, do you tend to think it’s due to luck or those around us (external) or do you fully acknowledge that you and your skills, knowledge and experience was also a main driver behind the success (internal).

When we consistently attribute our successes internally, it can help boost our positivity.

You could have a discussion about where individuals attribute their successes and suggest they “observe” their attributions, and get them to re-frame a situation if they perceive a success as purely external. As their manager you can help this process by affirming and feeding back what skills, knowledge or abilities they used to drive a work success.


  1. Belief in one’s own ability: Increasing our self-efficacy

Sometimes all we need to do to increase something is understand what drives it. Try these reflective questions:

When do you feel the most effective at work, like you can deal with anything that comes your way?

How can you increase this now when in a virtual working environment?

What can you do? What support might you need from others?


  1. A sense of control: Increasing sense of Autonomy

Things that help us feel in control

Feeling like we are in control of our immediate environment is extremely important, even more so during times of imposed change.

To support your team member to develop a greater sense of autonomy,  you might like to ask the individual to have a think about the following questions before a 1-2-1 in order to successfully facilitate an effective conversation about , what they can do and also how you can support them to increase their sense of autonomy.

When do you feel the most in control?

When do you feel like you have an increased sense of purpose at work?

Using insights from the questions above to answer the following:

How could you influence both your sense of control and purpose whilst in this new working environment?


Tool for increasing sense of autonomy: Circle of Control

This tool is the circle of control. It helps us to evaluate aspects in our environment we can control Vs. those aspects that we spend lots of time thinking about but that we can’t influence or control . The aim is to emphasise those aspects we can control in order to increase our sense of autonomy.

We can use the following exercise within a 1-2-1 or alone to “increase” the size of the control/influence circle so that individuals sole focus is on the factors they have control over. Increasing this helps us to feel more autonomous, and empowered about whatever situation we are in.

  1. Draw two circles on a sheet of paper, with one circle inside the other. Label the inner circle “control” and the outer circle “let go”
  2. Now on a separate sheet of paper, list some beliefs, and thoughts you are having about the current situation, work related and/or personal.
  3. Put them in the circles according to what you can directly control and influence (control circle), and what you cannot (let go circle).
  4. Cross out all the things you have no control over.
  5. Try to add some more ideas onto the control/influence circle.
  6. Choose something you have control over, and create two actions you can take towards/related to it in the next two weeks.

 Like a muscle, these aspects get stronger the more you “work” them. The more you and your team members use these mini activities, the stronger your sense of control, optimism and self-efficacy will be. Its all about small, but frequent activity, and over a short time this can greatly influence how well we can all adapt to change. 


About Emily Pepin

An organisational psychologist passionate about evidence-based practice and wellbeing. Get in touch with me at, or Microsoft Teams.

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