How do I get folks excited about Change?
One of life’s fundamental truths is that change is inevitable. That goes for our business lives as well as our personal lives. People generally don’t like it. They fear it, resist it, and complain about it. Sometimes they become despondent or physically ill over it. But change happens nonetheless. President John Kennedy said, “Change is the law of life and those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”
One of the biggest challenges for modern managers is helping employees embrace inevitable change, even those changes that are monumental. Beyond that, they need those employees to be enthusiastic about it, innovative, and to embrace the possibilities. Managers need employees to be excited about change.
- Honesty Is a Good Policy. You should determine what the true impact of the change will be and how those changes will affect employee’s lives, both the obvious positive aspects and the more challenging ones. Don’t sugarcoat it. Be factual and practical. Don’t just lecture. Listen and hear what employees are worried about. Work together to first find a path through the changes and then to embrace them.
- Don’t Underestimate the Impact of
Extreme Change. If employees are experiencing change
that is substantial, like the loss of a beloved manager or long-time
co-workers, forced relocation of their family to a new city or country, or
reduction in pay or benefits, their reactions can be severe.
- Such employees may experience reactions much like grief. You can anticipate that they could exhibit symptoms of each stage of grief — denial, anger, bargaining and , eventually, acceptance. In these cases, you must be tolerant and supportive. You must work to move employees through these stages and not allow them to get stuck at a stage before ultimate acceptance.
- Share the Vision. A fundamental duty for leaders, especially during times of significant change, is to clearly share the rationale for the change and what the benefits can be.
Don’t discount the inevitable question, “What’s in it for me?” For employees to accept change, they have to be able understand what the changes will mean for them and their families. They must be able to see the goals. Remember that dogs don’t chase rabbits that they can’t see. Leaders must share the vision.
- Communicate, Communicate, Communicate. Develop a plan and practice ongoing communications.
- Provide Needed Training. Make sure employees have the knowledge and skills they need to incorporate the change. Employees will not become enthusiastic about assuming new roles and responsibilities if they feel that they don’t have the competencies to perform well. Give them a reason to be excited.
- Identify and Eliminate Barriers to Change. You must recognize real barriers to change. Obstacles may include employees who refuse to accept the change and work to undermine it. You must deal with these employees
Other barriers may be a lack of resources, the lack of cross functional work teams, and counterproductive interactions.
- Open Door, Open Mind. Consider an open door policy so that employees can share their concerns and you can help them with their transition. Reward progress with recognition of individual and team success in achieving milestones. Recognition of success is encouraging.