Change can be a very uncomfortable place to be. Particularly for employees, there are many times where imposed change can make them feel powerless, out of control and ultimately, this causes fear, resentment and lots of other negative emotions.
There is a way to make them feel much better and keep onside the positive asset they already are.
The most annoying element that comes when managing change – especially where you’ve taken the time to build lasting relationships with your people – is to see them suffer with the new challenges they will face.
In fact, it’s even more basic than that. It’s that they struggle with what they don’t yet know and the personal consequences for them as individuals.
Because the nature of change – especially in larger organizations – is to take a step by step communication process, managers usually know more than individuals and yet have to hold back, because of the processes involved. This makes fo even more discomfort, because every employee is anxious for their personal bottom line.
Nebulous and generalized statements regarding impacts will not hold much sway with an individual unless they are able to appreciate exactly how it will affect them personally – and imparting that level of knowledge is not always possible to start with.
Yet there’s a way to enable them to have less time to focus on the unknowns and to constructively contribute to what’s going on. When your people are enageged in valuable activities, they will quickly get absorbed in where they are able to contribute and spend less of their time dwelling on what (only) might be coming their way.
There are many ways employees can become engaged in change.
A key to making this work best is the upfront investment you have personally made to engage your people, well before change has been even hinted at. Do not miss opportunities in your everyday work to create powerful relationships with your people in as many ways as you can – even informallly – because this will be a big lever that will work in your favour in the future, when times might not be quite so simple.
Sometimes, they will be enthusiastically engaged where you have a ‘what’ to deliver as an outcome – or series of outcomes – of changes, by using their skills and experience to come up with some creative – and often unexpected – ‘hows’ of the mechanics of delivery. They will have great ideas – if you involve them openly and honestly.
There will be opportunities for them to collaborate together, to negotiate between them changes they are going to have to deliver which can impact on their personal circumstances.
Where improvements to operational procedures and deliverables are needed, you will be amazed at how varied their approaches can be. After all, even though you’re the boss, you don’t have every answer – and those that you do have will more often than not be the best. (This concept can take a little getting used to for many bosses!).
Where you are able to communicate more fully, their contributions from questions they have will add to the mix for everyone, where you see it as an opportunity to explain and explore answers with a whole group of people. Creating a series of FAQs fromn your teams’ queries will very often prevent you wasting time saying the same thing over and over to many people.
And why stop with change activities utilizing your whole team this way. In a world of wikis and open source solutions, the smart organizations are already leveraging the knowledge, ontribution and ultimately the raw power of the many to solve problems.
One day, imposed change might well be the last way we solve problems. Our people will, in an enlightened business world, have fixed things before they become a problem in a rolling, ultra-inclusive process where all are involved and – deep breath required – bosses simply keep the plates spinning.
© Martin Haworth 2011. This is an expanded version of just one of many change management ideas, from Resilience in Change. For your free – downloadable today – ‘Managing Change’ Super-Simple Success Tips e-book, visit http://www.ResilienceInChange.com