Managing Difficult Change
Change in the workplace is inevitable. It happens on a regular basis whether we like it or not. For many individuals, change can be a good thing. A chance to take an objective look at processes and habits and make modifications towards professional and personal development and improvement.
That being said, change doesn’t always come easy, nor is it always positive. Major changes to positions and job duties (e.g., the result of restructuring), dealing with difficult situations, and adjusting to swift to various workplace transitions can be challenging for the most prepared and experience of us. There are still ways to effectively manage workplace change to limit resentment, resistance, and avoid a loss of productivity and morale.
Prepare Your Managers – The better prepared your managers are to deal with the change, the better equipped they will be to communicate these changes to employees to ensure everyone is kept in the loop and provided with the appropriate resources they need. Additionally, prepared supervisors can better react to and with upset employees and can help ensure everyone works as a cohesive unit by having the tools they need to effectively control a variety of situations.
Acknowledge Feelings and Emotions – Certain types of change can be emotionally taxing. Brushing your employee’s feelings under the rug is quite possibly the worst thing you can do in a difficult situation. Practice an increased level of empathy and try to put yourself in your employee’s shoes and understand where they are coming from. Knowing that you are there for them, are genuinely concerned, and will do everything you can to help them during those difficult times can make a huge difference.
Communicate. Communicate. Communicate! – Particularly in situations in which major decisions are being made (e.g., position eliminations due to a merger), it is vital to communicate anything you “can” to limit stress amongst your employees. Rumors about pending decisions can be incredibly damaging. Communicating with your employees through a period of change makes them feel like they are a part of the process, potentially strengthening morale and relationships rather than cause unnecessary discontent.
Change is constant. Having a plan in place and methods to help you mitigate the potential negative impacts of difficult change can make a huge difference in the overall productivity and morale of your employees and the ongoing success of your organization.