The only constant in life is change
You have heard it said a billion times. Change is hard. So how can you be strategic; it may be hard but not impossible. Let us explore some ways to develop an effective change management process that works for you and your team.
Change happens in organizations. Employees come and go, leadership fine-tunes organizational goals, workload priorities get modified, and planned growth continues. As the maxim goes “the only constant in life is change”. However, you can be there for your employees to better prepare for it and coordinate workplace change efforts so they happen without harm and to best effect. As a leader, you need to effectively handle and delegate the workplace change efforts to be successful and adopted by the entire organization.
Lead by example
First, you need to model the change. It would be best if you led by example. If you walk around the workplace with a negative attitude and are critical of the upcoming change, then you shouldn’t be surprised if everyone around you resists it.
Make sure that you communicate the changes. Answer questions when they are asked of you. Open communication between team members, managers and employees is critical in times of change. Do not let rumours lead you afield. Provide clear direction or clarification when something is vague. Encourage your employees to learn everything there is to know about the change from the most reliable sources first. Do not have them jump to conclusions. Ask them not to listen to gossip or hearsay but to ask for clarification from you.
What are the new job requirements, and what skills from your old position can you bring to the new one? In other words, instead of focusing on differences, focus on similarities. It is typical that a small portion of the population does not adapt well to any change. A large majority of employees will accept some change as long as they feel familiar with the situation. And then there is the portion of the population who love change – the more, the better. They need change from time to time to remain energized and fresh. It is important to understand the differing needs of employees in order to present an environment that continues to stimulate them and keep them motivated.
Maintaining a positive attitude during times of change may not always be easy, especially when negative thoughts leak into the workplace. Remember that you are limitlessly flexible and that growth almost always comes with discomfort. By embracing new changes proactively, with optimism and flexibility , you will be seen as an adaptable and accomplished leader. This will have a positive impact on your people’s growth in the workplace.
As a change leader, ensure that you involve all your employees in the process and help them break from the past. Use your role to get people to focus on what might be better, not worse, after the change. One of the crucial causes for employees struggling with change is that they try to keep doing the same things in the same way as before, even though things are different. Inspire your team to think innovatively about how they can take advantage of the new environment.
Create a supportive learning environment. Having fun is the first thing that goes out the window when fear of change permeates the workplace. Find ways to bring laughter and joy to work to keep people positive and productive.
“Yes, but” is resistive. Get your team to focus on “yes, and” and make sure you model this shift as well.
Have an open mind, listen carefully, ask questions, clarify and participate in the change discussion from the onset. Know your rights as a participant in the organization, and know what is contingent on your leadership.
Demonstrate a genuine concern for aspects of change that you do not understand. Seek guidance if you feel uncertain. Be positive. How does this affect what you do? And how does this affect the people for whom you are responsible? Knowing and accepting what you can control and what you cannot will ease the stress of change and provide a good example for your team to follow. Take care of yourself. Recognize that different emotions are caused by change. Listen to your body. Speak to and take comfort from trusted colleagues, friends and family members. Maintain a balanced diet, exercise, and get enough rest.
Remember that while change is constant, how you respond to it and how you lead through it provides for a future filled with optimism.
Co-written by Monika Jensen a Senior Associate of ASSOCIUM. Monika has over 25 years of extensive human resources experience focussed on workplace investigations, restoration, coaching and Labour Relations negotiations.
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