Employees generally hate change. Whether it’s a merger or restructuring, or a simple change in color of the office walls, studies show both staff members and managers tend to resist revision.
“I am convinced that if the rate of change inside an organization is less than the rate of change outside, the end is in sight.”
–Jack Welch, Retired CEO of General Electric
Whatever changes your company is planning, it’s critical to gain the trust and cooperation of everyone affected.
The reactions may seem irrational but change can suggest an invasion of turf. Some employees feel it lowers their status or eliminates privileges. They might also worry that a new organizational structure, or different procedures or equipment, will make their jobs harder or increase their workloads.
Above all, staff members fret about job security. Changes in the organization or a new boss may suggest to some that they’ll lose their jobs.
Here are six keys to achieving harmony during transitions and resilience thereafter:
1. Announce the plan. You must tell your employees about the general plan, either individually or in small groups. Explain why it’s necessary.
2. Accentuate the positive. To help win over your staff, minimize the negatives and emphasize the positive factors that make the change desirable and necessary. Answer questions thoroughly.
3. Hold trial runs. Use tests and trial runs to help overcome doubts and suspicions.
4. Involve staff. Let as many employees as possible participate in planning and executing the change. Ask them for opinions and to point out potential problems.
5. Monitor the change. More often than not, change works best when it works from the top down. The executive instituting the change should be visible and active in the initiative to ensure that the plan proceeds as expected and to deal with any unanticipated problems.
6. Review the results. Schedule regular reviews to ensure that the changes went into effect as planned and that backsliding isn’t occurring. Compare results with expectations, and be prepared to make alterations.
In return for a little planning and discussion, your organizational changes can transpire with fewer negative responses, less conflict, and much more buy-in and enthusiasm.