Help employees cope with change

Read any book or review any case study about successful change and you’re sure to find one constant: for people in organizations to accept and act on change, they need consistent and compelling communication from their managers. 

Leaders and managers play different roles during change. Senior leaders’ role is to communicate the “what” (change objectives and strategies) and “why” (rationale for why the change is necessary)--while your primary role as manager is to answer the question, “How does this change affect me?” 

Here are nine steps you can take during each critical stage of change

Stage of change…
Employees say and feel…
 How you should respond…

Holding On
Employees resist the change and defend the status quo

They say: 
“This will never work.”
“The other way was better.” 
“This will be another initiative that fizzles out like all the others.”

They feel:

1. Listen:
Let your employees discuss their feelings.

2. Acknowledge:
By acknowledging their feelings, you’ll show you care.

3. Communicate “what” and “why”:
Manage expectations and help gain acceptance by repeatedly explaining what the change is and why it is necessary. Minimize “corporate speak” and explain things in plain language that employees can relate to.

Letting Go
Employees accept the change and begin to refocus their efforts

They say:
“I don’t know if I believe this will work, but I guess I will cooperate.”
“It’s clear that we’re not going back to the old way of doing things.”
“I understand what I have to do differently.”

They feel:
Acceptance but apprehension

4. Facilitate:
Help employees view the change as a problem they collectively need to solve. Involve employees by asking them, “How do you think we should make these changes? How should we proceed?” 

5. Communicate “how”:
Once the group decides how to make the change, repeatedly explain the steps that need to be taken and the behavior that needs to change.

6. Gain commitment:
Ask employees if they are committed to the change.

Moving Forward
Employees believe the change is necessary and are committed to working toward a new future

They say: 
“I believe that this change is good and necessary to achieve success.”
“Let’s work together to find a way to make this change happen in our group.”

They feel:

7. Focus on new behaviors:
Encourage employees to look toward the future and begin to change the way they work together and individually. Reinforce “what we need to do differently.”

8. Provide feedback:
Continually give positive feedback to employees’ that are driving change and demonstrating desired behaviors. Provide constructive feedback to those who are stuck on doing things the “old way.”
“Given the changes we want to make in how we work together, this is how you should approach a similar situation in the future…”

9. Measure progress:
Periodically communicate to the group and individuals about how things are going.


Join our community and access our resources.