‘Change’ can be a highly emotive word. It can often be linked with positive transitions in the workplace – a new job, a promotion at work or a brand new office; yet even the most encouraging change in the workplace can create anxiety for individuals due to the uncertainty surrounding the change. For example:
All of these changes above are common practice within organisations and there are far more changes that could take place on a monthly, weekly or even daily basis. History has shown that for an organisation to survive and prosper it must adapt to the times and embrace change or risk failure.
So with change both necessary and constant, how do employers and managers successfully manage change in order to retain top talent, engage and motivate their employees?
The unpredictable nature of change must be addressed by creating a clear definition as to what the change is and what it will entail. We are naturally fearful of the unknown due to its unpredictable nature and therefore we become sceptical as to whether it will negatively impact us.
For example, when offering an employee a promotion, be clear and provide a good level of detail as to what the role will entail, why you feel that they will be able to take on their new responsibilities and how they will be supported.
Employees should not hear about change through the office grapevine. Make sure that the right person is responsible for making the change known to all those that it effects swiftly and that if more than one person is delivering the news, that the message is consistent so as not to cause confusion.
Change must also be communicated promptly for logistical reasons. Going back to the example of the brand new office, it is important to make employees aware as early as possible about the change so that they can feel prepared for it rather than it being sprung upon them. This is especially important if the new office is not in close proximity to the existing one as it could have an effect on all manner of things, such as their mode of transport and commuting time.
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.
Change can be negatively perceived if employees feel that it has been done to them as opposed to having been agreed with them. Allowing your employees to voice their opinions about the change will not only make them feel that they have more of a say in what is being proposed but could even conjure up some good ideas to initiate the change.
Furthermore, employees may feel disgruntled by change taking place but feel unable to voice their concerns so as to not appear as being difficult. Conducting an employee survey can provide an anonymous way of gathering valuable feedback before and after 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. In the case of moving office location, a company objective could be recorded in the system – ‘to make a smooth transition to new 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 and need not be feared by managers or employees if carried out well. For more information about how Actus Performance and Talent Management Software can help your organisation implement change, contact us below.