In today’s business environment companies are forced to change and adapt to a dynamic landscape or be surpassed by their competition. The rapid pace of growing technologies is forcing business owners to adjust their internal processes, improve logistics, update software and hardware systems more often now than in previous decades, those who don’t face drastic consequences. Unfortunately when these changes occur within an organization some individuals are much less accepting than others. Don’t let fear of non-acceptance paralyze necessary business decisions! Instead learn how to understand and assist your valued employees through transition.
Mitchell Nash at Linkage, Inc. used a marathon analogy to portray on how differently people in an organization adopt change. Some marathon’s participation are so large that it takes over 1½ hours to get all the runners off the starting line, by the time the last runner gets going those who began upfront are almost done with the race. The same is true with organizational change; those who adopt early will be almost completely acclimated before those who are resistant even let go of the “old ways”. Those who are resistant during change are often just feeling powerless, awkward and embarrassed. Their expectations have been disrupted and their sense of security is diminished.
So what do business owners, managers and those who are leading the charge on new initiatives need to do to help employees through change?
- Realize and accept that not everyone is like you. While the change is necessary and must happen in order to grow or even stay in business, avoid taking the hardline sink or swim approach. Statements such as “It is what it is” or “This is how it’s going to be” will only lengthen the amount of time it takes to fully implement your initiative.
- Communicate with your staff early and often. Be clear and upfront as to what is really driving the change, what problems are being solved and what would happen if the change did not occur. Describe the envisioned landscape and what it will look like when you’re all successful. Tell your staff what is in it for them, new skills and opportunity; steer clear of explaining how it affects a shareholders bottom line…unless they’re a shareholder.
- Identify those who are struggling with transition by looking for signs in behaviors. Listen to what staff members say, those not adjusting will ask lots of “why” questions and say things like “I sure miss the good old days”. Paying a little extra attention to coaching these people on letting go so they can move forward will go along way toward a successful change.
- Listening to your employees is twice as important than talking. When your opportunity to speak comes show empathy, it will help them feel more comfortable and know they are not alone in the struggle with transition.
Your employees are one of your best assets and are the engine that drives your company. An employee who has been with your company for 1 year may have the same issues accepting change as a 10-year employee. Understanding how to coach your staff members through transition quickly and easily will help your company’s changes occur at the speed of business and propel your organization forward within your market.