For small or large operational changes to succeed, they require a focus on staff engagement. Engaging your employees is all about two-way communication. Employees should understand the need for changes, goals, and timelines, and how they will be affected. Explaining in person is the most effective way to encourage your staff to make suggestions that may improve the process and outcome. The article lists a variety of tools to help you communicate effectively with your employees.
Are you leading your team or organization through a difficult change? If so, these strategies can help you consider the different steps you need to take, in order to help your people understand the pressures for change, address their concerns, get their buy-in and communicate their role in making it successful.
Make it safe!
- Create an atmosphere of safety and trust.
- Enhance or maintain self-esteem.
- Encourage participation.
- Model the behaviors you are seeking.
You don’t have to agree, just understand.
- Give information and business reasons as completely as possible.
- View resistance as a natural and positive mechanism for sorting new information.
- Expect resistance and expression of emotion.
- Listen to and acknowledge others’ reality.
Take the time needed to get a commitment.
- Start from where they are and lead them to where they are going.
- Answer questions even if they have already been addressed; they may be asked from another point of view.
- Discuss the goals, reasons and impact of the change on people.
- Show compassion for their concerns and address their fears and barriers.
- Ask for and listen to alternative approaches to the same goal.
- Stay flexible with the methods and include inputs when possible.
To know you are on the right track, you must first see the track!
- Clarify the purpose and direction.
- Create a transition plan and set priorities.
- Develop success measures and a feedback system.
- Clarify roles, expectations, and risks.
- Provide training, incentives, and support.
- Follow the transition plan.
Only by knowing where you are, can you get to where you are going!
- Monitor progress regularly.
- Give feedback on progress.
- Involve people in making adjustments.
Desired behaviors will be repeated with acknowledgment and reward.
- Observe and acknowledge every milestone reached.
- Record every accomplishment.
- Celebrate successes.
- Recognize and reward contributions.
An excellent article about the myths we perpetuate about change:
- Organisations are like machines
- ‘Disruptive’ change can be managed like a project
- Myths about those who resist change
If we perpetuate these myths, failures will continue to follow.
3 Tips the article offers:
- Know your change: Adaptive Challenges require involving people throughout your organisation.
- Mind your language: Language matters. These changes occur when every day thinking changes. Thinking changes when the narrative changes, which requires a different language.
- Welcome your resistors: See resistance as something to be understood not overcome.
Carol Dweck, a Stanford professor, and expert on change behavior, studies “mindset.” There are 2 types: “In a fixed mindset, people believe basic abilities, intelligence, talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount, and that’s that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time. In a growth mindset, people understand that talents and abilities can be developed through effort, learning, and persistence.” What if you aren’t wired for a growth mindset in a world of constant change? This article is about what can you do when faced with a change in life or at work.
I recently read an article by Stuart R. Levine, called “What can we learn from the history of change management?” about the organizational change management movement of the 90s. “Prior to the emergence of the formal discipline of change management, most change efforts ignored the people and the culture within an organization. (more…)
As change leaders, you are not immune to the emotional impact of change. To lead others, you must understand the role and importance of resistance, manage your own reactions and overcome your opposition first.
Major change is often accompanied by a great deal of emotion. Negative emotions about change, such as fear, manifest as resistance, while positive emotions energize you towards action. All of your emotions are valid, important, and necessary to the change process, because they provide clues and signals that direct your path through transformation.
The more negatively you view a change, the more you will resist it. But resistance can be a good thing. It is nature’s way of helping you navigate perceived dangerous situations with caution. You have to understand and value the role of resistance in keeping you and those you lead safe—without judging or labeling it.
It is also true that the more you perceive a change as positive, the more excitement and energy you feel towards making the change—even though you might still experience some fear. Positive emotions like hope motivate you and those you lead towards constructive ideas and actions.
The key to mobilizing for change is to transform negative emotions into positive ones by addressing fears and concerns.
- Allow yourself to feel your emotions and recognize them as protective, self-preserving signals from your subconscious.
- Accept your emotional reaction to change and give your feelings expression. Expressing your feelings is healthy, as long as it is not at anyone else’s expense. Cry if you are sad, laugh if you are joyous, and scream if you feel frustrated (you may want to consider screaming into a pillow or when you are alone in your car!). Talk to someone you trust or write or “journal” if that is more your style. You need to give yourself the opportunity to release emotional energy before you can get logical and practical about the change.
- Explore the messages your emotions are bringing to you. Ask, “What are my feelings telling me?” Be nonjudgmental and honest with yourself—especially when you examine your negative emotions.
- Write down your hopes as well as your fears and concerns. Things are a lot less scary when they are not whirling aimlessly in your head. Sometimes your fears have no basis in reality, but you can’t see that until you look at them closely.
- Write down your questions about the change and try to find out the answers to as many of them as you can. Remember—less “unknown” means less “fear”!
- Study what you have written. Doubtless, all the outcomes you consider are possible—but which ones are most probable? Identify and focus on those that are likely to happen and let go of the far-fetched concerns for now.
- Prepare yourself the best way you can for the likely outcomes. Control and influence what you can in the process and let go of the rest. There is no point in wasting energy on something you cannot do anything about. Make a transition plan that considers all your options, your support system, and your behavioral response to change.