Changes within the workplace must be implemented with the utmost management leadership and commitment. Management must drive the effort, coach employees, and above all, led by example. There will be a phase of rejection in which employees don’t acknowledge the change. This phase will eventually translate into the struggle phase, which is when employees start accepting it but struggle with how it impacts their normal occupational routine. Management must integrate the change into all other business plans and show employees that the change must take place in order to benefit the company.
As the change is taking place, management should analyze the struggles employees are dealing with. Why are they struggling? What can be done to reduce the difficulty of accepting and implementing the change? Are there side effects of the change that were not expected? Should the change move forward, or does it need to be reevaluated before moving any further?
Initial defense mechanisms often make it hard to accept new changes in the workplace. Managers should approach these mechanisms with the utmost empathy. As the change becomes more evident, there will be much confusion as the transition continues to take place. Employees will recognize how their normal routines are being shifted, and there’s a strong likelihood they won’t have a clear picture of why the change needs to take place. Clear communication must be maintained to make employees safe and secure in the changes that are taking place. Managers should set aside time to address any concerns and to thoroughly explain any answers given to employees when they ask questions.
Ideally, managers will have already anticipated the potential resistance that is going to occur and will have solutions in place to address such resistance. Minimizing resistance starts with being fully transparent about the change. When employees ask why the change must occur, they should be provided with extensively detailed answers. A document outlining the change can be handed out to all employees, which provides them with clear answers to the questions they will likely have.
Managers can show a true sense of caring by emphasizing the benefits of the change. The goal is to inform employees how the change is going to benefit their overall workflow. It’s important to highlight how the change will benefit the end customer, as well. This allows employees to see how the change is crucial to the overall well-being of the company.
The most notable way to show a true care and concern is by listening to employees as they struggle with the change. If possible, one manager per department should be solely tasked with listening to employees and addressing their concerns. This enables employees to have an easily accessible go-to source of information regarding all aspects of the change.
As employees identify their new roles and responsibilities, managers should coach them according to practices that will boost productivity. This is also a part of the change process in which managers must make sure all employees are provided with the necessary tools and resources they need to adjust to the change. Managers must be familiar with those tools and resources to provide coaching on an as-needed basis. If time and resources allow, workshop training classes can be conducted to assure all employees are comfortable with working with any tools and resources.
Above all, managers should understand the difference between proactive and reactive change. Proactive change takes place before the transition. Reactive change occurs during and after the transition. Various approaches to show care and concern should be tailored according to the change taking place — proactive or reactive.
Providing employee coaching and safety training can be accomplished on a group or one-on-one basis. If you notice certain employees struggling immensely with the change, you will, of course, need to schedule one-on-one coaching with them. This will make sure everyone is on the same page. Group and individual employee meetings should always be a part of the change process.
Stay tuned to learn more about creating a safety culture when implementing workplace change.