Businesses are always growing and changing, and sometimes these changes are not to the benefit of your employees. But even beneficial changes can provoke resistance and opposition as employees may not see how they benefit or be convinced that it heralds other bad changes. Furthermore, your veteran and most valuable employees may be among the biggest opponents to change, as they are used to routine and the way things are.
Managers thus have a duty to help employees adapt to a changing environment to reduce their anxiety and keep morale high. Here are some tips that can help and keep your business more flexible in a more competitive and changing world.
2. Don’t Attack the Past
When you are introducing a new change, it can be tempting to attack the old ways of doing things and talk about how everything will be so much better. This is a bad idea for multiple reasons. Those employees who liked the way things were will feel alienated. It also makes you look less competent, as the frequent counter is “Well, why didn’t you make this change sooner if you thought things were so bad?”
Instead, acknowledge the advantages of sticking to the old ways, and then talk about how the new ways will make things better for everyone. If you stay positive about the new and old, it will be easier for changes to be accepted.
3. Understand Employee Reactions and Get Feedback
No matter the kind of change, the reactions which employees have can be generally divided into a few categories. Toronto marketing firm, notes that anger, doubt, uncertainty, resistance are among the most common problematic reactions, and that different kinds of changes are more likely to provoke a certain response. For example, technological changes are more likely cause uncertainty as opposed to anger since many workers will become worried about whether they will be replaced by machines.
But understanding what to do for each response is useless if you have no idea what your workplace’s general mood is. Hold a forum or meeting where you openly discuss the change to prevent rumors, and ask for feedback. If you can show that you are genuinely interested in your workers’ concerns and understand their feelings, this will go a long ways towards blunting those negative emotions.
4. Embrace Disagreement
It can be tempting to blast those who are extremely unhappy with the change as stupid, belligerent, or other similar adjectives. But if you want a cohesive, harmonious workplace, or even harmony among students at top boarding schools, you must embrace disagreement instead of attempting to stamp it out. Resistance should be treated as a honest but fair disagreement, and those who disagree should feel free to speak their minds. In fact, the Harvard Business Review points out that well-managed disagreements can lead to more opportunities to grow, better job satisfaction, and other benefits.
Instead of trying to eliminate wrong think, encourage those who disagree to speak out. Before implementing a change, take some time to figure out which workers are most likely to be unhappy. When you hold a forum or meeting as discussed above, call out those particular workers for their thoughts. Let them speak their thoughts and try your best to address their concerns instead of letting them stew in their own resentment.
5. Change In Response to Feedback
Actions speak louder than words, and employees will notice if they complain about changes, you talk about how you appreciate their thoughts, and then do nothing.
When employees make complaints, file them under changes you can make and changes you cannot make. The absolute worst thing you can do at a time like this is to make a promise which you cannot deliver on, as that will shatter employee trust and morale. Address the changes you can make, and fix them as quickly as possible. While some employees may still be unhappy, others will understand that you are doing everything you can to make the transition as smooth as possible.
6. Train and Prepare
Even workers who may be enthusiastic to change may be worried about whether they can learn and adapt to new processes and technologies. As a manager, it is your responsibility to make sure they can. Unfortunately, many managers seem to think of training as paying some consultant to deliver a lecture and nothing more. But SHRM and anyone in human resources can tell you that for training to stick, your business must create a learning culture where employees are free to try out new ideas and feel empowered. Managers must say that it is okay to fail, and that new reforms can create new opportunities for employee to reach their potential and attain a better life. By providing training programs and learning opportunities alongside key changes, you show that you are interested in helping workers adjust to new circumstances and that they have nothing to be afraid of.