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Leaders – Help Your People Through Times of Change

One of the most frustrating situations I see workers face is during times of organizational transition, such as mergers or acquisitions. I am always left wondering why the effects of such change are not given more consideration, particularly the impact on workers.

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I have found that communication seems to take a back seat when it comes to informing employees about any changes, what they mean for them, how different things will be, and care about the emotional toll change can take. I have spoken with some leaders on this topic and have gotten responses, such as: “We’ll wait until the change happens as we don’t want them to worry” and “We don’t want information leaked out until it happens – it could cause disruption.” Seriously?

What leaders, who have these types of view, don’t recognize is that employees have a sense that ‘something’s up’ and feel anxious and worried about what’s to come. It seems there is not a lot of forethought prior to making a change.

As an example, I recently had a client whose company was merging with another; however, when they first started coming to me, they were told they would just move to the new company and their pay/benefit and title would stay the same. However, shortly after they were informed they had to interview for their job but were not told much about the new position being considered for. Now the client was feeling anxious and unsure now of IF they had a job.

A week went by and the client learned they had the job, but there was no title given, job description or orientation to the new company or duties. After another week, the client came in feeling demoralized as their new job was actually a step back; they still had no job description or org structure to know where her reporting lies. It also became apparent to the client that the company was facing their own uncertainties for the direction they were going or how all would fit, all of which should have been factored prior to the merger.

Our work consisted of helping the client to create strategies to cope and deal with the new position, conversations she needs to have with her boss to gain more clarity, and working to embrace the change, i.e. developing resiliency.

Here are some tips to help workers through organizational change, whether small or large:

Plan – ensure you have all your ducks in a row prior to making any changes; ensure policies and procedures are updated to reflect the new way; ensure job descriptions reflect new duties and are given to workers; provide an orientation to acclimate workers to the new way so they can feel more comfortable with the new; have a time-table for implementation.

Communicate – I can’t stress the importance of keeping workers in the loop as to what is going on; just because you haven’t informed them does not mean they do not know as information gets leaked out somehow; other times, workers can sense when change is in the air – these all lead to speculation that goes through the grapevine and can create a sense of uncertainty and worry, or misinformation that can be detrimental (broken trust). Let workers know the how’s and why’s of change, how will it impact them, when any change is about to occur, and being open to hearing their concerns. This will help to calm their fears that can lead to resistance and help them to be open and embrace changes you are making.

Have Check-Ins – be sure to follow up regularly with employees to see how they are doing and determine any need to help them work through any difficulties they may find. If you are a new leader in a role, have consideration for your new employees as you are coming into their space, where they have had a relationship with their former boss, as well as ways of working; take time to get to know them and hear their points of view on work processes, team dynamics and the like, as this will build trust and calm fears. Check-ins can be done both individually and with the group in order to create cohesiveness. If time is a factor, designate a contact person for this role.

Recognize It Will Take Time – don’t rush to make too many changes in a short amount of time; workers, especially those with long tenure, have been used to both the work and the environment which leads to resistance (the fear of the unknown) so making big changes can create fears and uncertainty, both of which are poison to productivity and quality work. You will find some workers embracing the change, others who will say they are okay but secretly are resistive, and there will be those who will be downright skeptical and unaccepting. Being cognizant that resistance will occur and allowing for time to work through change will lead to more acceptance. Your attitude will set the tone.

How you present and handle change will set the tone for their success; give consideration of the feelings of your workers is half the battle and will recreate new attitudes. Help them and they will help you to ensure a successful new organizational future.

Committed to Your Success Coaching & Consulting focuses on workplace happiness and organizational success. If you need help gaining clarity on your business or career goals, why not get some help – stop the struggle and call today to get started! http://www.cyscoaching.com or barbara@cyscoaching.com

 

Giving Up or Doing More – Which is Best?

As we are a week into the season of Lent which, if you’re not familiar with, is when some religions fast, pray and repent for the 40 days before Easter. Typically, one will either give something up that is difficult for them, such as eating candy or smoking, while others will do more, such as donate to charities, volunteer or be nicer to others.

This had me thinking that the premise behind this observance can relate to one’s career (or personal life) and how you can follow your own “lenten” journey. Now would be a good time to stop doing something that is detrimental to your career, such as coming in late or procrastinating on tasks. These types of activities not only hold you back from being a good performer and getting the work done, but they also will get you noticed – and not in a good way. Think of how much better you would feel if you stopped behaviors that have frustrated you (you’ve noticed) and created rituals in order to perform at your best.

On the other hand, why not look to make a commitment to do more, such as to be fully present in your work, to complement others you work with or get to know them better, or even smiling more. Being and doing more sets a different tone (than giving up) but it ultimately leads to bringing out more of your skills, talents and more of who you are, while thinking of others and your relationship to them. In the workplace, these types of actions can create more positive interactions that will ultimately lead to higher performance and more job satisfaction. You can whistle while you work versus feeling miserable.

I challenge you to choose one: give up or do more – for the next 32 days and see your results. Either way, you can’t lose.

Are You Creating a Culture of Fear in Your Organization?

I was talking to a coaching client the other day who discussed changes going on in their organization and how they were seeing ‘odd’ behaviors from employees, which included being less engaged in their work and more demanding in their wants and needs. Upon further exploration with this client, it became apparent that they were  (the organization) was creating a fear-based culture.

When change occurs, it is a natural response to resist it to some level; for some, it can be an immediate rejection while for others they may need some time to mull over changes and their implications – some will embrace them while others will reject in the end.

When an organization is undergoing any type of change from the norm, or the ‘what has always worked’ it can be hard to accept the new, particularly if that is unknown. This was the elephant in the room that no one in the organization was discussing: communicating any changes with employees regarding what they were, what would change, what would now be implemented, and how the organization would help employees through the change.

When employees are unaware and uninformed it can create anxiety within employees as well as misperceptions and assumptions that can spin out-of-control if not addressed. “Will I lose my job?” “What if I don’t like the new boss (policies, systems, etc.) they bring in?” I like my routine – how will it change?” These are just a few of many questions employees may be wondering; if no answer comes from above they will find their own – which is not good overall.

To alleviate any misunderstandings and help employees adapt and adopt to any changes, the easiest and most effective way it to talk to them. When workers feel that they are cared about and communicated with they will perform to a higher level. Letting them know why the changes are occurring is a big step to alleviating any resistance; other steps to take would include: what will the new change be (within a range if unable to divulge), what their roles will/won’t include, when the changes will begin to start as well as allowing them time to voice their opinions/concerns.

Helping employees to navigate changes will help the organization navigate them as well.

If you’d like help with change management strategies, call today for a free Discovery Session to learn more:  http://www.cyscoaching.com. where you can also sign up for our weekly newsletter.

 

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