“Any change, even a change for the better, is always accompanied by drawbacks and discomforts.” Arnold Bennett
Managers are often so focused on maintaining production levels during a change that they overlook the emotional needs of their employees.
Employees have expectations of their role in the organization, worries about how the changes will affect them, and a finite amount of emotional energy and physical stamina to cope with the uncertainty that accompanies change.
If you want your employees to be more receptive to changes and more willing to implement them, there are six key steps you can take:
- Hold frequent staff meetings, even if you don’t know anything new. Your staff needs to trust that the lines of communication are open and that they are being kept up to date.
Otherwise, they will imagine worst-case scenarios, and their morale and performance will plummet.
- Validate staff performance and accomplishments. Provide reassurance that upcoming changes do not mean that there is something wrong with their previous work.
Otherwise, they will feel threatened and become resistant to the changes.
- Keep staff concerns at a low level. When changes occur, your staff needs to believe that you will give them the time, training, resources, and support they need to continue to be productive.
Otherwise, their anxiety will adversely affect their physical health and their professional commitment.
- Make sure that staff know WHY the change is necessary. They need to understand the origin and goals of the change, as well as the consequences if the change is not implemented.
Otherwise, they will have no context for the change or a reason to implement it.
- Involve staff in planning the changes. They need to feel some control over changes that will affect them. If they cannot provide input on the change itself, ensure that they have input in how the change is implemented.
Otherwise, they will not feel committed to the change because they lack any sense of ownership or control.
- Celebrate with staff as each stage of the change is completed. They need to feel that you recognize and appreciate the time, energy, and commitment involved in accomplishing the changes. Change is exhausting, so it helps to celebrate the achievement of each milestone.
Otherwise, they will feel unvalued, and their energy and commitment to implementation will gradually decrease.
You want your major change initiatives to be successful. If you overlook the potential emotional fallout, it is almost certain that your staff will be less receptive to the change and less willing to implement it.
May your learning be sweet- and safe.
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