‘Our systems are outdated; they do not work anymore; we need to adapt to changing market and consumer trends.’ How do you think your organization’s stakeholders will respond when you make a statement like that?
Some people may try to listen with an open mind; some may feel uneasy over the looming uncertainty, while some may distrust and resist change. It would be rare for all employees to embrace change easily.
And such behavior is understandable. They are comfortable with the process, tools, and how things are done in general. However, an organization-wide change may very well threaten their identity.
But organizations today have to adapt and grow if they want to survive. It is up to the leaders how they make employees feel involved in the change management process.
Tips to Help Prepare Teams for Change
Implementing change, big or small, can be challenging. Here are some tips that can make the transition easier.
1. Share the Vision for the Future
The resistance and unwillingness to change stems from employees not being included in the big picture. The traditional method of creating a vision, generating a plan, implementing change, and expecting employees to follow through is flawed.
Instead of simply announcing your process model is going to change, explain the problem with the existing model and why the change is necessary for the company to grow.
For example, you could be partnering with an MSP to leverage their help desk outsourcing services. This is to help internal IT teams focus on goals like cybersecurity and innovation.
Or the existing process model is not customer-centric. Poor customer satisfaction ratings and negative reviews could be proof of that. In such cases, change is necessary for the company’s survival.
Regardless of the change being triggered from within the company or outside, you must tell employees why change is needed and what you aim to accomplish.
2. Elaborate on the Role of Employees
Next, you need to let employees know what role they will be playing in the change management process.
Employees care about what the company stands for, what it aims to achieve, and how they contribute to society. They want to be something more than mere cogs in the corporate machinery.
Sharing the vision and their role in it makes employees feel personally vested. They are leaving behind something that they are comfortable with. So, as a manager, letting them know they have a place in the future can be encouraging.
3. Engage in Meaningful Conversations
People often get attached to their teams and how things are done. So, it would help if you were open to having difficult conversations with employees.
According to an article in Harvard Business Review, you need to have difficult conversations with employees. Instead of staying hung up on the old process model, ask employees what about the change makes them uncomfortable.
Most often, the answer to the question was a personal sentiment and attachment to how things were. Once faced with reality, employees were more receptive to the change.
Your employees are humans. You can surely expect them to be professional, but it is only natural for them to be emotionally affected by big changes. As managers, instead of ignoring this aspect, you should aim to address it.
4. Keep Employees in the Loop
The time taken to implement change can significantly vary depending on its scale. Small process changes may take a few weeks to a couple of months. Organization-wide changes can take up to a year or more.
Moreover, you could run into obstacles that could further delay implementation.
In such cases, it would be ideal to ensure all stakeholders are in the loop by providing them with timely updates.
These changes can affect employees at a personal level. You do not want them feeling scared or left out. Regular communication provides clarity, makes away with baseless rumors, and keeps employees focused on their work.
5. Provide Growth Opportunities
You should present change as an opportunity for growth rather than a necessity. For example, promote employees within the company instead of hiring from outside.
This shows that you have faith in their capabilities. And that you are committed to helping your employees grow along with the company.
The transition period can be difficult for employees. It might push them to look for opportunities elsewhere if they sense uncertainty over their future. Lack of growth opportunities was one of the top reasons people quit their jobs.
So, aligning available talent with upcoming roles is a win-win situation.
6. Create a Transition Team Specifically for Employees
Positive mental health plays an important role when an organization is undergoing change. It helps employees remain agile and open to new roles and responsibilities.
Lack of support at the workplace can affect employee confidence and may impair their ability to work productively.
A transition team can act as a mediator between the change team and employees. They can provide updates and convey employee concerns and feedback. It can be a thoughtful way of making employees feel valued.
Ensure the transition team has the means to support employees. For example, the team should be able to provide access to counseling and coaching sessions. They could also provide access to meditation, fitness, or creative sessions and resources to encourage work-life balance.
7. Leadership Should Lead by Example
Change can be difficult for you as the manager as well. Like your employees, even you have to give up on a process model you were comfortable with. You must first come to terms with the change before you start advocating it.
If you do not deal with your emotions, you risk making statements like, ‘I do not like this either, but this is what we have to do.’
Such a statement can negatively impact employees. It gives the impression they are following a leader who does not believe in the vision.
If you want your employees to believe and work toward the future, you need to be the one leading by example.
When implementing change, ensure that your employees feel they belong. You can do this by sharing your vision and explaining the role the employees will play in bringing the vision to life.
Keep them in the loop by providing timely updates and offer support by engaging in conversations and access to mental health resources.