The pace of change has quickened over the last decade or so. Part of this is due to technological progress, part is cultural evolution alongside it. One thing that hasn’t changed about change, though, is the human struggle for effecting, managing, and coping with it, for better or worse. Even positive change comes with some discomfort. Depending on which statistics are referenced, the failure rate for organizational change ranges from almost 50 to 75%. One thing that seems to set the successes apart is that the organizations that thrive through change put people first.
Understand and Address Resistance
For those near the top, expect some resistance as a natural occurrence when presenting change to the front lines. While some may resist any deviation from “the way we’ve always done things”, others may have legitimate concerns. Beyond any initial knee-jerk pushback, pay attention to those who continue to resist; they may be onto something overlooked by management.
Concealed resistance can thwart an important change just as easily as a crucial missed detail. Gossip sabotages morale and threatens the efficacy of the change. Defuse covert resistance by approaching change as collaborative, rather than foisted upon employees without input; your staff will be more engaged. A measure of authorship –not just ownership– promotes goodwill and creates a personal stake in the success of the change. Involvement from the ground up is critical in making an organization a cohesive team, while making change a win for everyone on it.
Open resistance can illuminate potential downfalls or unforeseen bottlenecks. Constructive examination of resistance to find these pain points is invaluable. Don’t discourage open resistance. Welcome opinions and concerns; review and adjust where appropriate. Turn detractors into “change champions” who can help get others on board. Their input might not only help avoid costly mistakes, it could be the difference between an abject failure and a home run. Listen to employees. They are where the rubber meets the road, after all.
Use a Team-Based Approach
Speaking of teams, consider assembling a group of early adopters to help ease transition for others. Make changes in practical, manageable chunks. This avoids overloading stressed staff and helps evaluate implementation. Remember mathematics: Consider the order of operations and reduce the complex to simple, sequential steps. Provide comprehensive training before, during, and after changes, so that the vision for them is understood, executed well, and followed through.
Remaining mindful during a workplace change is just as important for those “in the trenches” as it is for management. If you’re against change by default, question whether the change is problematic, or fear of uncertainty is coloring the lens you’re viewing it through. If you have legitimate issues with the change or see something critical that’s been missed, speak up! Present your concerns appropriately, professionally, and calmly. Remember courtesy, respect, and empathy. Others are likely also questioning the change and how it will affect them. You’re on the same team. Consider ways change might help, and ways you might help the change. What causes anxiety today may prove to be tomorrow’s opportunity to show off skills, build a stronger team, and grow with the organization.
Communication alleviates uncertainty on both ends: Employees avoid distraction from wonder about the unknown, and management gets needed ground-level feedback. Reinforce the purpose of the change with regular guidance from management to employees; use the inverse to evaluate procedures and correct course as needed.
Open Communication Is Key
An employee communication and collaboration app, such as AutoAlert’s Pando, can be useful in keeping teams engaged and in touch wherever they may be, at any time, in a way that is easy to use. Efficiency of communication can make transitions smoother and keep your team nimble while navigating change. Pando provides a forum to exchange questions and answers quickly and stay up to date in real time.
Change is coming sooner or later, like it or not. Remember, life is often less about what happens to us than how we react. Use change as a push to be your best self. Remain mindful of the part you play and how that role relates to others and the organization as a whole. Trust that you and your team can be stronger on the other side of transition, and you will be.