The word “change” automatically conjures up a wide range of responses in people.
Some people embrace it and some people resist it. Experienced and successful leaders will agree that effective change demands planning. Developing the skills and a process to realize and manage organizational change requires enhanced leadership abilities. How do you gain the support of your employees for even the most drastic of changes? Let’s take a look at some key behaviors to facilitate change in others.
We’ve all heard the phrase, “it’s not what you say, but how you say it” and that is paramount when rolling out change to an organization. When you’re intending to introduce change, the planning process should involve input from the workforce on the best way to implement the change. If your organization has conducted employee surveys in the past, draw on that information and discuss with employees the reason for the change. Incorporating their feedback and their role in the transition process will be received well because they feel like their voice is heard. You’ll find people will be far more committed to the change if they see that their feedback has been considered. They will embrace the change with a more open-minded stance and do so with a sense of ‘ownership’ over the proposed change. Also, align your proposed changes with the corporate and company goals. Positioning the decision as ‘progress’ towards these goals is a great way to enable your employees to focus on the positive side of the process.
Good leaders recognize that their team is diverse and are aware that people adjust differently to changes. In the initial phases, people don’t know what to expect and wait with anticipation. Some employees may become angry and resentful. When they realize that change is actually going to happen, people experience sadness about leaving behind the former way of doing things. Finally, they begin to accept the change and move forward. Learn to be patient when helping employees deal with change. Provide adequate training for any new policies, technology, and procedures. Your team and the organization will need this time to develop a new comfort level and replace the old. Since it usually takes at least four weeks to develop a new habit, make sure to provide adequate training and support with this in mind. Don’t just give a hour seminar on a new procedure or technology and expect everyone attending to be proficient after one or two sessions. Encourage employees to tell you when they feel comfortable and confident with the new change.
Once you’ve communicated a change that aligns with the goals, and provided support for this phase, it is time for a successful implementation. Develop a timeline on specific actions of implementation and determine the priority of actions. Along the way, facilitate and support the change to ensure a smooth transition. Open communication is also important at this stage, and giving employees a timeline and expected outcomes will ensure everyone is aligned and is moving in the same direction. Finally, affirm, appreciate and reward your employees frequently during the period of change implementation. When employees feel your appreciation and praise, they are motivated to keep pushing through the transition phase.
After the implementation phase, don’t just disappear behind closed doors and assume that everything has successfully transitioned and people have adjusted. Review the progress of the change and maintain open lines of communication. To do this, good leaders walk around their organization and talk to their teams. Set a good example and walk around to see how the change is affecting your organization. By doing this, your employees will trust in the change process and this quality communication reduces the low productivity and morale issues that typically come with transition. Timely information also helps you overcome resistance, complacency, and other obstacles to transforming your organization.
Overall, keeping an open mind and employing these behaviors will facilitate a successful transition in any organization.