Change is inevitable for any organization; it’s required for growth. Both small changes, such as new staff or new projects, and significant changes, like a change in top-level leadership or mergers, can affect members of your team. Change can leave your staff feeling confused, uncertain, or fearful which will affect productivity and morale. Though some uneasy feelings are to be expected, there are ways that managers can help prepare and support staff through the process.
Anticipate challenges and have a plan. Organizational change will cause some disruption within your team, and much of it can be predicted. Thinking through how the new policy, procedure, or structure will impact individuals and the team as a whole can help you prepare for issues or missteps that may occur. If there will be a change in staff roles, anticipate the positive and negative impacts of the new structure and come up with a game plan for managing the fallout. If a new procedure is being implemented, attempt to anticipate questions and areas of concern. Though you can’t predict every issue, taking the time to think through the possibilities will help you be more prepare for predicted and unpredicted challenges.
Identify “quick wins” to help gain buy-in. Resistance is one of the biggest issues groups face when confronted with the possibility of organization change. Humans are creatures of habit, and we often resist things that a new or unfamiliar, even if they will be helpful to us. Identifying components of the new plan that will make the work easier, increase resources, or allow opportunities for advancement can help employees be more optimistic about what’s on the horizon.
Be honest. Sharing information with your staff honestly and promptly may put them at ease. During change processes, people like to have as much information as possible to help them anticipate what’s coming next. If there are times when you won’t be able to share information, tell your staff that as well. They are more likely to trust you and believe you are looking out for them if you are upfront about information, even if the information is “I can’t share more with you, yet.” Often, managers will hide bad news, trying to protect their employees from unnecessary worry. While protected employees by withholding information may work at times, more often than not, employees may feel like they were purposely kept out of the loop. Being upfront about the details of organizational change can help them prepare for next steps.
Practice empathy. Dealing with change can be hard for everyone involved. Understanding how your employees might be feeling and appropriately affirming them can be helpful. Sometimes, sharing that you are also experiencing some jitters may be helpful. When expression your own worries, it is also useful to follow up with something, such as saying that you’re excited about the new opportunities. Refocusing your employee’s concerns by helping them find parts of the new plan that is exciting will help them move past some the worry into a productive space.
Change is a necessary process if organizations want to stay in business. Actively support your employees through organizational change can make the transition much easier for them and you!