In today’s work environment, the ability to manage change and conflict in the workplace effectively is a critical competency for managers and supervisors. Employee & Labor Relations (ELR) can assist management in evaluating a challenging situation involving direct reports, co-workers or others in the workplace and provide options for resolution. Contact ELR through HR ServiceNow.

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Managing Change Effectively

Many changes can affect the way we do business such as new technologies and systems, retirements and succession planning, new policies and procedures, reorganizations, and new business processes. As a result, managers and supervisors need to personally adjust to the changes, assist staff in the transition process of change, be champions for the change, incorporate the change in their departments, and make sure that staff can successfully navigate through the new way of doing things. A key UC Core Competency for both managers and staff is Innovation and Change Management. Supervisors should consider each employee’s demonstration of innovation, adaptability, cooperation and flexibility when evaluating staff performance. However, supervisors must first provide sufficient support for employees as they transition through changes at work.

Tips for Managers + Supervisors

  • Before you can help an employee adapt to change, think about your own reactions to changes. Be aware that your behavior about a change can affect the behavior and reactions that your staff will have about the change.
  • Find out about the changes on campus that may affect your department. Ask questions, ask for clarification, and check the applicable campus websites regularly for new information.
  • Communicate often, clearly and honestly with your employees about the changes that are taking place at work. It is ok to say “I don’t know” if you still need more information about a specific change. It is not ok to assume that your employees know as much as you might about what is going on.
  • When you are communicating about a change, explain what is changing, why it is changing, how it is changing, and when it is changing. You should also emphasize what is not changing so staff will know what will stay the same for them.
  • We each process change in our own way and at our own pace, so understand that your employees may experience shock, denial, anger, resistance, and fear. On the other hand, employees may experience excitement, eagerness, and a willingness to adapt quickly. Take the time to discuss these reactions with your employees and acknowledge that they are all normal reactions.
  • Be supportive of each employee and provide them with the resources they need to transition through changes in a manner that best fits their learning style. Understand that it may take time for employees to be comfortable and confident with the new way of doing things.
  • Encourage your team to work together to learn more about the change and how it will affect them. Give them the time and freedom to explore the new change. Encourage them to take training to learn more about the change.
  • Celebrate small wins as you transition through change.

Change Management Resources

Our campus is experiencing a significant amount of change right now and for the foreseeable future. Human Resources has a variety of resources available to help managers and supervisors manage their own reactions to change and effectively lead others through change. In addition to instructor-led or online training available through the Learning Center or LinkedInLearning, Human Resources offers individual consultation, coaching and advising through Employee + Labor Relations; and assistance with personal issues that may affect you or your employees through our Academic + Staff Assistance Program (ASAP).

Employee + Labor Relations


Office of Ombuds


Managing Conflict Effectively

When individuals work together, they may have different goals and work styles. Because of this, conflict can sometimes result. However, if the conflict is handled effectively, a potentially disruptive event can be turned into an opportunity for improved communication and greater productivity.


Conflict Management Services + Support

The campus offers a wide range of services and support to help management and employees address concerns and conflicts in the workplace.

  • Academic and Staff Assistance Program (ASAP) provides a variety of services to help resolve personal or professional problems. To help resolve conflict, ASAP staff offers facilitated conversations. A facilitated conversation uses an objective, non-judgmental facilitator to help individuals hear each other to move toward conflict resolution. Facilitated conversations are completely confidential and focused on problem solving with a mutually agreed upon outcome.  
  • Office of the Ombuds assists the campus community with the informal resolution of any University-related complaint or conflict by offering a safe and confidential place to discuss workplace issues, interpersonal conflict, and many other problems.   

UCSB Threat Management Team

While we encourage management to try to resolve conflicts informally, you should not tolerate or ignore threatening or violent behavior in the workplace. These types of behavior are unacceptable and a potential violation of University policy. Management has a responsibility to report these behaviors. Managers and supervisors are encouraged to contact the UCSB Threat Management Team for assistance. The Threat Management Team members coordinate resources and assist individuals, supervisors, and administrators with responding to such behavior. Any threats of imminent violence or actual violence should be immediately reported to campus police.

Threat Management