In any organization, change is necessary in order to continue to grow, remain profitable, and compete in the marketplace. Organizations that fail to change are soon doomed to fail. In addition, people who remain stagnate and fail to change will eventually quit to find another job. Even though change has many benefits, it can be very difficult for many people to deal with. This is especially the case if change is occurring rapidly or if the changes aren’t exactly positive for everyone. In any case, as a leader you have an obligation to manage change to the best of your ability. If you’re struggling to deal with the changes at your work place, give these simple tips a try.
Come to Terms With Change
There comes a point when everyone must come to terms with a changing organization. The sooner one embraces changes, the better their experience will likely be. In large organizations, change may come more slowly, however, when you see it coming it’s best to brace yourself and expect to be asked to along for the ride. Moreover, you may be asked to (or you may desire to) be a contributor to the change itself. By making the realization that change is needed, you can forego the period of time where you would naturally resist organizational change in the first place. Embracing the change is the best way to get a jump start on the inevitable.
“How you manage change can make all the difference.” – Irene Rosenfeld
Understand the Mission
More than 75% of all change initiatives fail. There are many reasons for this, however, one of the reasons is that middle managers and employees haven’t bought into (or won’t buy into) the change. This is often because they don’t understand the reasons for the change in the first place. As a leader of a small work group, it can be extremely challenging to convince employees to get on board with changes from upper management if you don’t understand the mission or reason for the change yourself. This is where asking questions and offering to be a part of the change discussions can become very valuable. Probably one the best questions you can ask is “What’s in it for me and my team?” When you fully understand why the organization needs to change, it will go a long way to helping get buy-in from the rest of the team.
Look to Your Superiors
When you are having trouble adjusting to change, look to your superiors for help and guidance. Good leaders will provide the tools, support, and coaching necessary to help their employees transition through a period of change. You will be expected to provide the same assistance to your employees as well. After all, if everyone supports each other through a paradigm shift in the workplace, the transition can be made more easily and with less resistance resulting in an enhancement of trust between employees.
Listen to Your Employees
One of the best sources of information regarding the impacts of a change are your employees themselves. Your employees are often the ones working hard doing the day-to-day labor. They have the best knowledge of the problems and potential solutions on the factory floor or in the field. In addition, front line employees have an upward vantage point whereas leaders and executives have a downward vantage point. By speaking with, and more importantly, listening to your employees, you’ll gain a new perspective on how to help manage changes in the workplace. Moreover, your employees will trust you more and will be significantly more likely to buy-in to the changes.
“Listen with the intent to understand, not the intent to reply.” – Stephen Covey
Be the Negotiator
In any change initiative, there are going to be people who resist the change all together regardless of your initial efforts to garner their support. In some case, change resistant workers may stand to lose something that they value which may explain their resistance. As a leader, it will be your job to sit down with those employees and begin negotiations with them. Take the time to explain what they stand to gain from this change rather than what they will lose. In some cases, there may be ways to mitigate their concerns or you could even offer them incentives to accept the change. However, your authority in this area may be limited. In any case, you can (and should) always bring the good ideas and concerns of employees up the chain for discussion and evaluation.
Have the Will to Succeed
Change is not easy. If it were easy, all organizations would change at the flip of a switch when needed. As a leader, you have to have the will to succeed and the fortitude to continue moving forward even when things get tough. Maintain a belief in yourself, keep your eye on the organization’s vision, and help your employees through the transition. If you can persevere the face of adversity, you will eventually succeed.