When leaders, such as you, are confronted with executing change in the workplace, you are frequently looking at a difficult task. Staff can get confused, angry, distracted, stressed-out or afraid for their jobs, all of which can bring about decreased performance and lowered morale. How can a leader effectively actualize change while still maintaining employee productivity and motivation?
In order to re-establish productivity, balance, and profitability, leaders require a specific strategy. Supporting people through change must include techniques along with practical tools that a leader can apply to present or future changes in their workplace.
So, how can you assist workers during change, particularly when you can’t slow down, stop what’s going on, or give them a chance to get settled at their own pace?
Here are some important approaches to support your colleagues through change:
Yes, compassion! I know it sounds weird at work but stay with me. To start with, remember your own reaction when you first heard about the change and were seeking answers concerning the change. If the change impacted you positively, you might have accepted the change – yet most likely you still would’ve experienced some uncertainty.
If you perceived the change as negative, you may have been anxious, angry, or confused and experienced a range of other emotions your colleagues are currently encountering. It's easy to forget that not everyone has had the time you had to understand the change. You are often discussing the change with your colleagues a couple of days, weeks or months after you first heard it AND after you've dealt with the change yourself. They may be hearing it for the first time.
When you're planning to talk with your co-workers about a change, recalling your initial response can help you be more understanding of their challenges with the change, and to put proper avenues in place to help them adapt to the change. If appropriate, tell them your experiences and remember – not everyone has had the time you have, to process this change.
BE HONEST WITH WHAT PEOPLE ARE LOSING
Before you discuss the change with your colleagues, consider what will specifically change. What would your colleagues say they must relinquish doing, having or saying? For instance, when you are developing a new process, your co-workers may need to stop simply planning with a couple individuals, or thinking only about their part of the organization. If the new approach is designed to be more strategic and integrated, people will need to build new relationships and learn about other business units. People will have to step out of their comfort zone - the place that is easy and natural to be in. But for most people, when they need to change their behaviour, it's hard; you have to give up something. It could be time, productivity, relationships or any other issue. When you understand this, it will make it simpler for you as the change agent to be more patient – and just as importantly, to facilitate that discussion.
It's likewise helpful to consider what's new. What do your colleagues need to start doing that they have not done before? For instance, some changes may be procedural: incorporating new stakeholders in a planning meeting. Other changes may require additional skill development or new ways of thinking. If part of a new process includes how that process is going to influence and be used by the entire organization, they may have to learn new skills of collaborative negotiation, influence and strategic thinking to be effective in implementing the change. This doesn’t happen overnight. All of us require time to adapt to the change. Be specific about what will be new. What do you want people to think, feel, behave and do following the change. If you can’t see the end result– no one can!
Join Gregg at Project World * BA World - Toronto - May 9-12, 2016 where he will be a keynote speaker - Building Leadership Resilience: 5 Strategies for Business Analysts & Project Managers to Increase Their Effectiveness During Change