The saying, “The only constant is change,” particularly holds true to business management. One of the key strengths of a great manager and leader is the ability to accept change and orders that come down from above, with enthusiasm and confidence, in which you then translate the directive with the same enthusiasm to your team. Even if you are not worried about the changes taking place, that does not mean your staff isn’t concerned. They generally resist change because they do not know, or have a lack of knowledge, on what’s coming ahead. It is also because of the way the change is communicated to them. Constant clear communication throughout the change process is the key. The change can be as major as a company takeover, or as simple as a small change in organizational structure. Whatever the change, it needs to be clearly communicated to your staff to relieve any possible anxiety.
You will most likely get some worrisome and sarcastic remarks from some of the team members, but that’s natural so don’t worry about it. Don’t get angry about complaints, even though you may be angry about the change yourself. They may just need to blow off some steam, and the best thing you can do is show that you do care and understand their frustrations. You might want to share some of your own frustrations as well; as long as the main take away point is optimism for the future. Your main concern is to make sure the change or transition goes smoothly and everyone knows the new objective. Don’t wait for someone else to tell you what you should do. Take the steps to prevent unwanted surprises, continually meet with your boss and staff to keep them updated, and don’t make or implement major changes until you have consulted with your staff. If you show you are embracing the changes with optimism and leading by example, your staff will most likely follow with little to no reservations.
You need to determine:
· What is the reason for the change?
· Why is there change?
· What is the goal you or the company hopes to achieve?
· Will it make your department or company more efficient?
· Will there be a need for more resources?
· Where is the change coming from, you or upper management?
· Who will benefit from this change?
· Who can be negatively affected by this change?
Your goal is to have your staff understand the need for the upcoming change. Even if it is perceived as negative, it should still be perceived as a need for a change in direction, or even to keep the company afloat.
Here are 12 points to keep in mind when dealing with change:
a. Communicate to everyone at the same time if:
i. It is necessary for everyone to hear the news at the same time.
ii. You want to get your employees involved to generate ideas and help in finding solutions to the change. This is also a good way to create teamwork within the group.
iii. You want to briefly announce to everyone a major event and then immediately follow up with individual meetings.
b. Communicate to each person individually if:
i. You anticipate that it will cause a high degree of emotion, which can be counter-productive.
ii. The subject matter is sensitive and can be consider private or embarrassing.
iii. The changes involve actions that should remain confidential. It might be related to pay, classification, employment status, or downsizing.
iv. If you know there will be troublemakers in a full group setting that might make matters worse.
5. You can either verbally share the change information or write it out. In most cases, it is a good idea to use both written and verbal communication. A good rule of thumb would be, the more emotional the issue, the more it should be verbal rather than written. You might also want to document the conversation with any expectations or concerns as a backup. Here are some guidelines to follow for both verbal and written communication regarding change:
a. Verbal communication is more appropriate when:
i. You know that they will not take the written message seriously, or will not fully understand its meaning.
ii. You want to grab their attention immediately, and not take the chance that they will automatically check to see if a message is waiting for them in their inbox.
iii. Emotions are just too high. Verbal communication provides chances for both you and the other person to let off steam and cool down. They will then have a better chance at understanding the reasoning behind the change.
iv. You are looking for feedback visually and not by an e-mail response.
v. You need to convince or persuade the team to accept the change. You will have a better chance at getting your point across verbally if it is asking for more of them to do.
vi. The details of the change are too complicated, and cannot be well expressed written on paper or in e-mail format.
b. Written communication is appropriate if:
i. The change is general enough and does not necessarily affect your department.
ii. You need documentation of the communication for future reference.
iii. Your staff will be referring to details of the change at a later date.
iv. After you gave a verbal statement, you are following up with updated information.
In every way, effective communication is your most important tool. If you follow the points just given, you will be looked at as an effective communicator of change. The only people who will not accept your statements will be those who are most likely unhappy with the present situation anyways. If there are those who do resist or retaliate against change, they need to be dealt with before they influence the attitude and performance of their peers. Do not permit any resistance to change or else you will be broadcasting the wrong message. Use good judgment, be thoughtful and willing to listen to any of your employees concerns, but make sure they adapt to the change, as it is inevitable.