Few things are as uncomfortable for employees as organizational change. Think about it. Your employees are happy. They know their jobs, and are comfortable doing things a certain way. They’ve been successful, perhaps for many years. And then suddenly, something changes. Change is difficult.
I once attended a change management workshop, where we were asked to make a small change to our morning routine. It was a good example of the uneasiness that surrounds even the smallest changes. Try this. Take off your shoes and put them on again. Which foot did you start with? Odds are you start with that foot every time. Try taking them off and putting them on again, starting with the other foot. Feel odd? You bet it does.
It’s the same way in the workplace. It’s human nature to find effective ways to complete tasks and perform your job, and when companies disrupt the status quo, it can be very stressful and feel threatening for your staff.
As a manager, you should expect resistance. However, the organization needs to change, and to be successful, you need to get your employees on board.
Here are my 3 recommendations for leading organizational change to make it easier for your employees:
Step 1: Communicate.
Open and honest communication is critical in facilitating organizational change. A communication plan needs to be created and monitored. As a manager, you need to explain to employees what the current situation is, and why the status quo isn’t working. Let them know why the organization can’t continue on the way it has been and then paint the vision for the future. The vision and benefits need to be reinforced repeatedly to help employees get on board.
People also want to know how the changes will affect them, and if there will be any negative consequences, so be sure to be honest about the impact of the change.
Step 2: Tell Success Stories.
During an organizational change, it’s very important to celebrate and promote your successes. Organizational change is a long-term process, and there will be small victories along the journey. Find those early success stories and communicate them to employees.
Step 3. Don’t Give Up.
For a change management process to be successful, the CEO needs to stay engaged with and focused on the change management program long enough to ensure success. What frequently happens is that after those first early successes, the CEO moves onto other things. As a result, momentum slips, and change does not become a permanent part of the corporate culture. Resources must be in place, and managers must be continually reinforcing and delegating. Managerial systems and communications need to be supported well past the beginning stages in order for change to really take hold.