Change, like taxes and death, is inevitable. Change may also be intimidating, off-putting, and enough to throw an entire department off its normal routine. However, no matter the circumstances, it is the responsibility of a leader to navigate these occasionally tumultuous times and keep their team informed and working as diligently and efficiently as ever. Here are several tactics that can be used to ensure a smooth transition
Dispel concerns through open communication
One of the worst things a leader can do is avoid addressing employee concerns. During times of both large and small change, employees will have questions. If they are not directly answered, tensions are likely to rise, leading to unrest, rumors, and debates in the breakroom. Therefore, it is important to answer questions as they are asked and ensure all answers are both truthful and consistent. Otherwise, employees may assume their leader has some sort of hidden agenda.
Another method of maintaining organizational transparency is inviting employees to give both positive and negative feedback. Some ways of gathering feedback include: a suggestion box; surveys at key checkpoints; meetings where employee feedback is encouraged, responded to and recorded; and an open-door policy held by senior management.
Take advantage of the company’s existing strengths
Regardless of the change a company is undergoing, its culture is likely to have evergreen qualities that will both empower and motivate employees to embrace and work through challenging times. Reinforcing these characteristics is an excellent method of uniting the team and avoiding disruption as much as possible. Change can be uncomfortable, and it’s always helpful to provide staff with some sort of constant throughout.
Hold everyone to the same standards
Double standards within the workplace will only diminish employees’ willingness to embrace the changes they are being faced with. Therefore, a leader should always lead by example and show the same amounts of enthusiasm and dedication they would expect from their team. Such optimism will likely be infectious.
Emphasize the positive benefits
While some employees may gripe about even the smallest change, it is important to note that such negative reactions can be counteracted by pointing out the ways in which these changes can benefit them and their clients. By assuring the team that these changes truly are for the better, they will be more likely to embrace them without complaint.
Enlist informal leaders
Informal leaders act as a buffer between members of the management team and the employees, giving them a more relatable figure to communicate with and learn from. According to researchers Aguirre and Alpern, these informal leaders often take on three roles: the pride builders, who motivate and inspire employees to take pride in their work; repositories of the organization’s culture, who are often approached by those with a genuine desire to know what’s “really” happening to their company; and change ambassadors, who act both as exemplars and communicators.
Implementing change is never easy. However, the process can be made more bearable by setting small goals and celebrating their achievement. Not only will this show team members how much their cooperation is appreciated, but will act as a small boost of much-needed morale as well.