Change is common in major corporations and is often inevitable, it is also the basis to creating major disconnect between employees and employer. People simply don’t like change, and they don’t like getting out of their comfort zone especially for someone else’s benefit. As a manager, you are the lead in change management and therefore there are many elements that you want to take in consideration…
Setting The Mood: If you are familiar with the company you work for and know that change is frequent, then start preparing your staff for it early on. Regardless of what change is to come you will be able to have more open minds that were expecting it, therefore not taking people out of their comfort zone as much. Preparing your staff with constant motivational messages around the impact that good change has on an organization sets the mood that change is a positive and will draw people’s curiosity as to what changes the company they are in today will overtake, preparing themselves to hear about positive changes. Understanding people’s concerns prior to change even being brought up is important as it will be useful once you are aware of the changes to come and each individual’s reaction, negative or positive.
HINT: At this point, people will start talking amongst themselves and it is important to understand negative vs. positive people, someone who may have had a terrible experience in the past may try to poison others later during a time of change. Understanding and recognizing threats before they occur is a vital role of your leadership position.
Preparation For Change: Once you know change is coming, it is time to prepare your team for the actual change. Preparation can be easy or extremely difficult based on the groundwork you set for yourself earlier on. If you prepared well, then the team will already be receptive and welcoming towards the change and this step will be more informational than anything else. If you did an average or poor job of preparing, it is key to start by understanding people’s comfort levels with change. Holding a meeting perhaps and having everyone discuss one big life changing event that occurred to them would give you the ability to understand that person’s acceptance of change. Make sure to share 2-3 positive stories you personally have gone through. Once you recognize who is open and sees change as a positive, put them in charge of educating the group on the future changes. You can make each a change advocate, and different areas for each to study and deliver to the group at the next meeting. These advocates will be your crowd and damage control as other will feed off their enthusiasm and be more accepting of the changes coming. Equip them with resources and the tools and double check often to ensure the message they will spread is accurate and not fictional or assumed. Correct delivery is key as you only get one real shot at making sure an employee’s experience is smooth. Make sure everyone understood their role and how they will be impacted as well as how they will impact the change is very critical.
Hint: Make sure to let people know that through change, mistakes do happen and that patience on everyone’s part is key. There will be more work, more headaches and that only true teamwork and cooperation will make the process smooth for all. It is important that people feel like the team is stronger than ever going into change together and that you and others are there to support them. Throw in there a reward and gain even more positive feedback.
Attitude Is Everything: In change, many individuals will look to those in power to understand how they feel about change, and will follow the lead. In other words if you don’t like the change yourself and seem negative about it, then it is very likely that the person following you will mimic your behavior. Keeping a positive outlook on the change and demonstrating that will enhance your chances of leading the change without resistance. Making sure that other change advocates you have put in place also demonstrate the positive attitude and excitement will re-enforce your position.
Through The Change: Once the change is underway, make sure that your employees are comfortable and remain focused if things don’t go as planned. Having the appropriate channels to go through and understanding how they can troubleshoot issues will bring people at ease. In other words knowing who to call for help, or who to ask for help makes it easier and less impactful on your bottom line. Check in often with your staff, even if they don’t check in with you, check in with your change advocates to know the issues and complaints they hear about and address them quickly. Re Enforce that everyone is doing a great job even if they are having difficulties, change is always difficult as it is new, so everyone to a degree needs to re learn their roles. Be understanding of mistakes, and coach all the time without using authority but rather teach people to not make the same mistake twice.
After The Change: Talking about the experience or the change after its all said and done is very important, it creates unity as employees try to find more common ground on an experience they undertook together. There will also be much to learn from one another’s perspective for next time change is upon you. Being able to communicate what people would have done differently and still address any lasting concerns that maybe were not addressed will get you more buy in.
Remember that change is a constant in every corporation, and that you need to be a change agent no matter how big or small the change. Good managers will take change, manage it and take employees through it so that the company’s impact is minimal. Great leaders will take their employees through the change, minimize the corporate impact and ensure the connection that their employees have isn’t damaged as well as take ownership of the experience that employees and customers undertake. If you don’t prepare well for change, then you lose the ownership piece around the employees’ loyalty to their company or yourself.
Make sure to check out “How to Become the Ultimate Leader” if you really want to take your leadership style to the next level.