‘Change’ can be a highly emotive word. It can be linked with positive transitions – a new job, a promotion at work or a new office. However, even the most encouraging workplace change can create anxiety amongst people due to the uncertainty surrounding it.
They may be thinking:
These changes are common practice within organisations, with far more taking place monthly, weekly or even daily. History has shown that for an organisation to survive and prosper it must embrace change or risk failure. So, with change both necessary and constant, how do employers and managers successfully manage change? Without successful management, engagement levels amongst staff are likely to fall and people will likely move on.
Creating a clear definition as to what the change is and what it will entail will remove ambiguity. As humans, we are naturally fearful of the unknown as it is unpredictable. We, therefore, become sceptical about change, wondering if it will negatively impact us.
For example, when offering a promotion, clarity can be shown by explaining what the role will entail, why the person is fit for purpose and the support on offer.
Employees should not hear about change through the office grapevine. Communicating the change consistently, to the right people, at the right time is key to avoid confusion.
For logistical reasons, change must be communicated well. With an office relocation, employees should be made aware as early as possible to feel prepared rather than having the change ‘sprung upon them’. This is particularly important is the new office is not in close proximity to the existing one. Employees may need to consider their commute time or new modes of transport.
Getting employees to understand why the change is taking place is half the battle and can be used to highlight the benefits to employees which may outweigh any negative feelings already formed.
For example, the office relocation will add on a further 10 minutes to an employee’s journey but has a car park so that they can drive rather than getting two buses into work. By effectively communicating the positive angle, not only will you avoid negativity but you could initiate a highly positive culture within the organisation.
Employees will react negatively if they feel the change has been done to them. Allowing staff to voice their own opinions about the change will make them feel respected and could raise some good ideas on how to initiate the change too.
Furthermore, employees may feel disgruntled by change but unprepared to voice concerns out of fear of appearing difficult. Conducting an employee survey can provide an anonymous way of gathering valuable feedback before and after the change and as a result, take appropriate action where necessary.
Finally, it is important that any change taking place is conducted in a transparent way so as to build trust amongst employees. To not do so would be highly damaging and risk employees looking for alternative employment.
There are a number of ways of being transparent, for example, managers could set up a one-to-one meeting with staff to discuss the change and then record the conversation held in a performance management system. During an office move, a company objective could be system recorded: to make a smooth transition to the office located in x location on x date we plan to do y’.
Change is both necessary and continuous. It can be highly empowering when conducted effectively. For more information about how Actus Performance and Talent Management Software can help your organisation implement change, arrange a free demo below.