Change management: getting around the twists and turns
Article revised on 27 March 2019
Advances in technology, a changing marketplace, the arrival of new competitors, demographic changes… Many factors prompt businesses to evolve. Businesses these days must not only adapt but also transform themselves quickly… and often. It’s a matter of survival! To get there, your business needs to be able to rely on employees who are able to operate in a working environment that is in a state of flux.
Although change can inject new vitality into an organization, it can cause some juggling of responsibilities and employee tasks. Some will welcome change, while others will meet it with resistance. Others still will experience moments of anxiety, stress and lack of motivation. As a manager, you play a key role in the success of a change initiative. Here are some ideas on how to deal with the twists and turns and help your employees get onboard.
The keys to motivational change management
Although some may fear change, the change itself quite often brings a breath of fresh air. However, for the change process to go smoothly, the main parties involved – your team members – need to understand it and find that it has meaning. For that reason, it is important to explain to them the organization’s vision and the reason why the change is necessary. Your employees must also feel that they have your support and that their sense of balance is being taken into account during the transition.
Researchers have identified a number of practices that facilitate a large-scale organizational change. These include strategies that make it easier for employees to accept individual changes, feel supported and collaborate throughout the change process.
|Facilitate acceptance||Facilitate support||Facilitate collaboration|
|Adjust the pace to suit the circumstances||Don’t change the priorities until the change has been sufficiently integrated||Look for areas of dysfunctioning and correct them|
|Be attentive to those carrying out the work and recognize their efforts||Give the staff members concerned adequate guidance to help them quickly get over the hurdle and carry out the new requirements||Provide regular progress reports to employees, clients and partners|
|Continuously reiterate the objectives sought||Periodically obtain feedback from employees, clients and partners||Be there, on a regular basis|
Source: Ordre CRHA
Communication: a pillar of support
We have come to realize that, whether it’s a large-scale change, one that involves the entire organization or a targeted one that occurs within a team, communication throughout the change process is essential. Communication is not only important, but it must be based on transparency and give everyone an opportunity to express their point of view. Explaining things is not enough. As a manager, you must be able to attentively listen to what your team members have to say. This is your opportunity to take part in the conversation and open the channel for dialogue between employees, yourself and senior management.
Make sure you:
- Clearly present the context of the change and the reasons why it is necessary
- Explain what the change will involve: advantages, main elements in its deployment, effects on teams
- Show transparency by mentioning the possible obstacles: the challenges your team may encounter, potential issues and ways of resolving them
- Ask everyone to help avoid any possible pitfalls
- Indicate the support measures that will be provided and demonstrate that the organization is mindful of the fact that time, patience and flexibility will be required
- Clearly state your expectations and those of the organization
- Ask everyone to provide feedback and say what’s on their mind.
Resistance is not always a negative thing
Naturally, when faced with change, most people tend to dig in their heels. It’s normal. And that may be a positive thing. Employees who are resistant demonstrate that they are anticipating obstacles and are committed to their work. To break up the resistance and enable your most reluctant employees to express their feelings about the transformations, maintain dialogue and ask the right questions:
- What’s not going to work? Which elements will be disruptive? Which ones won’t?
- On a scale of 1 to 10, how high is your stress level? Which factors are causing this stress?
- Are employees willing to make the efforts necessary to adjust? How are they planning to go about it?
- What can you do to help your employees?
- Do your employees think that the change can have a positive outcome down the road?
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