Change is inevitable within any business – whatever the sector they are in. Some common kinds of change faced by organisations include downsizing, changing locations and restructuring. One thing is true for all changes in business and that is that they affect employees. It doesn’t matter whether the change is positive for an organisation or even a really simple one like changing the colour of a wall; employees will often still feel unsettled. In addition, the only constant is change as the world we live and work in moves on.
Unfortunately, most people don’t really like change. It is important to manage change effectively to ensure the transition is as smooth as possible and that you retain your best staff. The only way to manage change successfully is to be an engaging leader and these are some ways to use your leadership skills to get the most positive result from change in your organisation.
Most problems with change management are down to a lack of communication – poor timing, not enough or information that is wrong. Employees may start to hear rumours about what is going to happen and this is what starts to make them feel nervous. They don’t know what is coming and they worry that they will be negatively affected. It is vitally important to communicate regularly with your staff and particularly those who may be affected. If you communicate throughout the process, you will find that employees will feel better about the situation and the transition will be much less stressful for everyone involved. An engaging leader will use open and honest communication and keep employees updated on progress about the change process and why it is being done. They will take positive actions, such as sending out weekly emails with updates, hold regular meetings and will answer any queries from employees quickly. They will also be honest when they can’t answer the questions posed and will commit to coming back with a clear answer in the future.
Employees like to feel that they are valued. They turn up every day, work hard and they feel part of a community. There is an expectation that they will be involved in decisions and this is particularly important when it comes to making changes within a business. Take the time to get opinions and ideas from your team, understand how they feel, demonstrate that you have taken account of their input. If you make sure they are involved in the process from start to finish, then you will get much higher levels of buy-in from your employees. A successful leader will involve employees throughout the change process by creating an open forum where they will answer any queries, they will invite employee feedback and most importantly, take the feedback on board and act on it.
No matter how big the change may be for your organisation, you should allow your employees time to adapt. For example, if you are downsizing, you should give your employees plenty of warning and information to help them deal with the change. Job losses are the main concern when it comes to downsizing, so the clearer you are about the options available to those affected, the easier it will be for them to adapt to the change. A transformative leader should be empathetic to their employees and will create a timeframe for the change so that they have time to adapt their lives if need be. They will also actively source other opportunities if the change involves job losses or provide additional support if there is something which will affect the lives of their employees.
Effective change management requires strong leadership skills. If you would like to find out more about how you can improve your leadership skills and deal with change management effectively, email Glen at St. Andrews Consulting.