Humans are not big fans of change.
It’s stressful and confusing, and if you think I’m wrong, think about how long it’s been since you last updated your phone.
Change at work can be especially scary, and it can seem like it’s making an employee’s job more difficult. Having to learn a new software, a change in organizational processes, or shifting hierarchical responsibilities—all of these are an adjustment that employees can be resistant to embrace.
There’s lots of great reasons to pursue organizational change. Maybe you’re trying to keep up with the times by following the Small Business Hype Cycle or a new talent trendthat looks like it’ll make your life easier. Maybe your system is just too outdated, or your business has outgrown it.
As a talent manager, how do you get your employees on board? How can you allay their concerns and help them embrace the change that is being made, presumably, to make their lives better?
These four simple tactics will help you prove to them that this transformation is a positive one.
1. Show them you care
Change can feel very threatening. Humans have evolved to spot patterns and notice when anything is out of the ordinary, as that helped us identify predators and survive longer. So if anything changes in our environments, our primitive brains want to panic.
In a modern sense, organizational change in the office can have a very real threat: the loss of a job. It’s natural for big change to make many employees wonder what else can change. Is their position getting eliminated? Are they too old to learn a new system and likely to be replaced soon? These anxieties can manifest as a resistance to change.
The best way you can address and ease these fears is by communication. Be transparent throughout the organizational change process. Talk about why a change is coming and what purpose it serves.
Acknowledge employees’ concerns. By addressing these concerns head on and explaining the need for the change and the positive effect these modifications will produce, it will not only diminish their fears that the change is somehow personal, but further convince them that they are a valuable asset to the company as their concerns were accounted for.
If you think about your employees’ perspective and communicate this to your team, your employees will stand behind your decision the same way you have clearly stood behind them.
2. Keep them in the loop
Take it one step further. Don’t just wait for employees to get upset—answer questions before they’re ever asked by being open about what’s going on.
Rather than springing a new system or structure on your employees, keep them in the loop throughout the planning process. This can begin by letting them know when you or other people in management start looking into a change, and can continue throughout the process. The less sudden organizational change is, the easier it will be to swallow.
Schedule a company meeting to explain these changes directly and present the direction you are going along with the expected benefits. Doing this in an open forum, a forum that welcomes questions and discussions, will not only limit the insecurities employees may have, but will highlight the improvements this plan will bring about.
3. Get them actively involved
Organizational change can make your team feel that, as their manager, you have stepped over to the “dark side”—only passing on orders, no matter how much it concerns or inconveniences your team.
By actively including them in this change, you solidify the importance of their roles in the company. Showing employees that this change cannot be done without them will generate a unification in mission.
There are lots of ways to encourage employee engagement including:
- Ask for weekly feedback and give updates as the plan goes forward.
- Consult with your team over issues that arise throughout the process.
- Form committees to handle different aspects of the organizational change, and get your employees involved in those groups.
- If your business mission statement or company culture encourages employees to embrace change or growth, use this to remind your employees why they came to your company. This may help employees refocus on what really matters: growing together as an organization.
Your schedule may not allow for constant discussion about every possible issue, so consider positioning a head of each department as a co-leader, one who will be in charge of bridging the communication gap between employees and senior management. This can help employees feel actively in change, even as it saves you time.
4. Move them forward
The best way to secure success is by actualizing the change as quickly as possible. The less time employees have to mull over the idea and raise hypothetical concerns, the better.
By executing change in a quick and timely manner, it shows the employees that this change is serious. Plus, their time will then be focused on adjusting to the change instead of worrying about the possible ramifications it may bring about.
Speed change by planning as much in advance as possible to avoid unnecessary snags and pauses in the execution process.
As you go along, pay close attention to issues that arise, and never put off dealing with a problem, no matter how small. It’s much easier to fix small problems (such as something that can be handled with a clarifying email) than ignore issues and let them fester into much larger problems that can trip you up.
And keep a good watch on your calendar; nothing holds up organizational change like missed deadlines.
Fearing the change itself can result inn resistance and a lack of productivity but seeing the organizational change happen and experiencing its benefits quickly will increase cooperation.
How do you change it up?
How have you motivated your team lately? Have you overcome any huge overhauls or organizational changes? Tell me about it in the comments below, or tweet me @CapterraHalden.