Dr Bev Smallwood

How To Make Change Less Difficult For Employees

Times of transition in an organization may be very unsettling for managers and employees alike. It is critical that managers exhibit confident leadership as well as to serve as a healthy role model for adaptation to change. What, then, can a manager do to make the adaptation process less difficult for employees?

1. Announce changes as far in advance as possible.

When employees feel caught off guard by surprises, they may become angry and defensive, fearing being “out of control.” This negative impact is diminished when you provide prompt information and answer all questions about how the proposed changes will personally affect the individual employee. Full explanation of change decreases the fear of the unknown, provides a sense of control, allows for a period of conceptual adjustment, and builds personal confidence that the changes can be successful and beneficial.

2. Give employees input into the changes and how they will be implemented.

Allow as much input as possible into the changes that will be made. While some aspects of organizational change may be fixed and non-negotiable, workers may provide valuable ideas concerning methods of implementation or contingency plans within their units. By allowing them to be a part of decision-making in the change process, they experience more “power” and less emotional upheaval.

3. Provide the necessary training, coaching, and feedback for workers involved in change.

When a worker’s responsibilities are altered, he or she can experience a threatening loss of expertise and confidence. During such transitions, employees may make more mistakes and work more slowly.

Help to restore this expertise as quickly as possible in order to prevent a significant loss of production or even the loss of valuable employees. Training, positive feedback, reassurance, and patient coaching can promote smoother and more efficient transitions.

4. Uphold quality, while realistically expecting mistakes.

The reality is that change does impact performance to some degree. Thus, while adhering to a general policy of expectation of quality in performance, allow and plan for this slowing process. Such a slow-down happens, whether or not the you’ve adjusted for it. Thus, during times of change, realistic expectations regarding schedules and levels of production may aid everyone in stress management efforts.

5. Set the tone for honestly dealing with psychological transitions.

Managers are charged with facilitating the transition process. If you find yourself in this “helping” role, you may be struggling with the same feelings of disbelief, anger, guilt, or depression as are the “helpees.”

Encourage up-front discussion of these feelings. Assure employees that these feelings are normal. However, realize that staying too long in these negative feelings can cause managers and employees alike to get “stuck” in a resistance of reality.

Bring about acceptance by yourself and others by taking an honest look at current reality. Look for ways to take action, using available resources and requirements. When such actions begins, distressing feelings usually begin to fade.

If you are in a formal or informal leadership role, you help to set the tone for the rest of the work team. Become a model of resilience and maturity, confidently approaching change and opportunity and a challenge for growth.

Dr. Bev Smallwood is a psychologist and professional speaker who is the author of “This Wasn’t Supposed to Happen to Me.” Visit her website, www.DrBevSmallwood.com; or contact Bev at 601.264.0890 or by email, Bev@DrBevSmallwood.com. Also connect with Bev on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and her blogs, Shrink Rap and New Morning Devotionals.

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