Make change easier on staff

April 6, 2011
Filed under: Coach's Corner — Tags: , , , — jonimar @ 8:04 am

Q: My executive team spent six months working on some key changes for our business. The staff agrees it makes complete economic sense for our company and their jobs. But when we rolled it out they balked. How can I gain their support?

A: Humans are creatures of habit. Even when change is for the better, people often cling to the familiar because it’s safer than the uncertainty of the unknown. People typically move through stages of shock, denial, anger, bargaining then depression before reaching acceptance.

After planning for months, you will be at a different stage of the change process than staff hearing about it for the first time. Don’t expect them to jump on the bandwagon right away. They need time to absorb the impact.

Communicate your vision and its benefits so everyone has a clear understanding of where they are heading. Give them a forum to air their thoughts and feelings openly and honestly.

Staff need knowledge. How is this going to shake out? How will it impact me and my role? Address their concerns and expect resistance from about 30 per cent of your people. Recognize their counterproductive, negative or sabotaging behaviours. Minimize its influence on the 50 per cent undecided.

Approximately 20 per cent of your employees will be excited to embrace the change. Reward these supporters for their contributions towards the initiative. They have the ability to sway those who are taking a “wait and see” attitude. Encourage employees to get involved in the implementation. This creates ownership and increases commitment.

No matter how well you manage the process, some individuals will opt out. Let them go. Stay focused on your change leaders who will create the critical mass for organizational success.

Originally published in The Province, April 3, 2011.


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