Does a changing environment impact employees?
Generally speaking, employees either feel encouraged and inspired by change, or they feel threatened by it. At the end of the day, this comes down to how the change process is communicated.
I know, you’re probably thinking, “Yea, everyone says it’s always about communication. That’s a bit of a broken record. Give me something new.”
True, every expert in the world will continue to tell you it’s about how well you communicate throughout the process and fully engage everyone impacted by the change regularly. Although you may not like the advice for any number of reasons, it’s still the best advice around and will likely remain so.
Strategies that can reduce the negative impact of change
A scientifically proven approach to change is to consider these phases and how to best collaborate and communicate them with others, including the general workplace population where possible:
Pre-Contemplative – You don’t know there’s a reason for change, but you continuously measure the current situation and look for opportunities to improve.
Contemplative – You now recognise a need for change and you explore how to make the ideal outcome happen.
Planning – You create a robust plan for the change and ensure you have all the necessary stakeholders on board and everyone knows and accepts what they need to do.
Action – You implement the plan and monitor and improve every step, as it happens, to ensure you meet your change goal.
Maintenance – As the changes occur, monitor that they are achieving the desired result and there’s no slippage. If you keep this up well, you exit the change model with sustained new behaviours.
Relapse – If you slip up, fall back, miss a step, something doesn’t work, etc, you revisit and revise, you plan, and take the corrective action and do your maintenance checks until the change is successful.
Ensure you have someone completely dedicated to managing this process and give them the resources and support to succeed in the task. Do all of this and you are likely to minimise any potential negative impacts of change. Yes, there are other strategies, but this is the most important.
Implementing a training strategy is a successful way to manage key executives in times of change
Executives need to be the change agents; it’s that simple. Teaching key executives HOW to be change agents is the most important step.
Eventually executives will be able to effectively project manage change when it is required. They will be able to understand and learn about a change and focus on the best way to implement it at the same time.
A well designed change management training program will provide learners with opportunities to implement changes they want and for their own reasons. They are likely to be smaller in scale, allowing greater opportunity to get the fundamentals right before having to use them on a bigger change project.
Key messages of this training need to include the “what’s in it for me” to learn these skills, including the flow on effect of minimising the “pain” of change and maximising the benefits when done well. For example, a poorly implemented change process will eat up the executive’s valuable time by having to handle issues, complaints and resistance. One that is handled well will enable the executive and others to reap all the benefits of the change immediately, including potentially having more available time in the schedule to get other important work done.