November 14th, 2018

How to Help Employees Embrace Change

Whether it’s adopting new software or embracing the concept of customer success, it can be difficult to get some employees to accept change. Change can be frustrating for some employees. Those feelings will only linger and amplify if they’re ignored. Help your employees embrace change. Start here.

The Challenge with Change for Employees

Psychologists explain that humans are wired to look at anything unfamiliar as a threat. Whether that unfamiliar “threat” comes in the form of a mastodon or a new workplace process — it’s scary for most humans. Which is why workers may go through a variety of emotions when confronted with change. Feelings like fear, loss and sadness are not uncommon when your employees are faced with change.

“Change can be scary for the team and showing compassion and empathy are important,” says Brent Gleeson, author of “TakingPoint: A Navy Seal’s 10 Fail-Safe Principles for Leading Through Change.” As a leader, you must communicate clearly and show discipline. It’s important to be transparent, too. Here’s how to do that:

BLOG | Change can be difficult and frustrating for some employees. But it's important to recognize, and not ignore, their feelings. Learn how to help your employees embrace change: https://ajilon.co/2FlHzUl via @ajilon

Explain the Change

One of the first ways to help employees accept change is to explain why it’s needed. For example, change can bring about greater success or help turn around a failing company. All those things will make a difference to an employee – it can mean the difference between having a job or getting laid off. Or, change can mean that a new system will bring about greater efficiencies, and mean that workers will no longer have to work long hours or weekends and so get to spend more time with their families or friends.

Embrace Employee Advocates

Look for early advocates. Some employees will quickly learn a new technology or immediately begin supporting a new process. These are the workers to enlist to help others who may be struggling. Asking for the help of these early advocates will boost their engagement, which can positively influence other workers.

Employees need to be encouraged to use their talents to help the change initiative be successful. Frame the change as a great opportunity that can be exciting for the team.

Clearly Communicate the Change

Identify the goals. Leaders must clearly identify the specific goals that individuals and teams are expected to meet as part of any change initiative. Reaching these goals will help keep employees engaged in the process and make them feel more positive as they attain successes.

Prepare Your Employees for the Change

To do this well, you must provide the right training and support. Managers don’t always have time to spend months training workers for a change initiative. But any amount of prep work can pay off for your employees. To lay the ground work, it helps to create an environment of agility. Tell your employees not to be afraid to find new ways of doing things in their day-to-day tasks. In this way, managers can lay the groundwork so employees are always focused on moving forward.

Change can be difficult, but many workers understand it’s part of today’s workplace environment. Some may grumble about it, but that’s OK since it shows they care enough to complain. Managers, however, need to watch for the worker who becomes silent and withdrawn, since that signals a lack of engagement that can make change very difficult for the employee.

“It’s tempting to withdraw when you encounter conflict, but you have to do the opposite,” says leadership guru John C. Maxwell. “Look for ways to demonstrate your values as you explain your vision. The key is to be steady, positive and consistent.” Managers may need to spend more time meeting one-on-one to employees embrace change.

Commit to the Change

“There’s no being ‘kind of on board’: Each of your team members either demonstrate their complete values alignment or they don’t,” writes S. Chris Edmonds, author of “The Culture Engine.” Be candid. Explain what will happen, and how resistance will effect the company. Explain  the steps you describe, and describe why they’re necessary.

For more workforce insights, check out ajilon.com.

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Ajilon

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