How to Manage Organisational Change Smoothly

December 28, 2015
How to Manage Organisational Change Smoothly

It takes a long time to create the perfect working environment – one where your employees feel comfortable and confident, and work well together.

When big organisational changes begin to appear on the horizon, the environment that you’ve worked so hard to achieve can be at risk. It could be a major replacement of a software system, or it could be a big merger or buyout. Either way, it is your job to lead your employees through the war zone and back into their comfort zone – and these 10 techniques will help you be a great leader of organisational change.

1. Manage Your Own Expectations

You cannot simply expect your employees to embrace change with open arms and a warm smile. You need to be smart by expecting resistance, and preparing for it. Resistance will occur, but if you expect this and remain optimistic, then there’s no reason you won’t be able to help your people to finally accept whatever changes are coming their way.

2. Prepare Answers to the Obvious Questions

Before you announce anything to your employees, write down a list of responses to the main questions they’re likely to ask – such as “Why is this happening?” and “How will it affect me?”. It might even help to turn this into an FAQ that you can circulate so that everybody has their own copy.

3. Encourage Questions

Give your people the chance to ask you the questions you’ve not yet answered. You might even want to make this into a bit of an event, and have a panel of people willing to provide answers. Expect a bit of chaos and frustration, but providing you lay out a few ground rules, it could really help your employees begin to understand the change.

4. Segment Your Workforce

When hosting Q&A sessions or discussing the forthcoming changes, you might find it helps to split and address your audience in smaller groups – such as by department, or by length of service. This will help you address specific concerns that are likely to relate to the rest of the sub-group, rather than confronting a mob of diverse opinions and queries.

5. Target Influential People First

You know the people who are respected and admired in your organisation. So why not find them, and work on showing them the benefits of this change? Once they are sold, they will naturally influence others. You could even ask them for support influencing others and spreading the positive messages.

6. Be Clear. Don’t Hide Things.

Some aspects of the change might not be very appealing to your audience, and you might feel more comfortable hiding them away and hoping nobody notices. Don’t do this – be as clear as you can be, and set out an honest timeline of dates, milestones and key tasks. This helps to remove uncertainty and fear of the unknown.

7. Prepare Your Staff for Uncertainty

No matter how much you plan and prepare, there will always be an element of uncertainty that comes with a new change – if we could tell the future, we’d be living very different lives! Teach your staff how to manage uncertainty, and prepare them that the journey might not end up as clear as you hope it will be.

8. Empower Your People

One big factor in resistance to change, is the feeling of a loss of control. To strengthen your change management and reduce resistance, you can hand some control over to staff – invite feedback, encourage suggestions, and volunteer support committees who can get physically involved with supporting the change.

9. Regular Updates

During change, if you go silent, people will start to worry. Create a schedule for providing updates to staff – such as once a week on a Friday afternoon – and stick to it. Yes, even if there’s nothing to report! The fact that you’re still getting everybody together just to say “things are still how they were last week” at least reminds them that you haven’t forgotten – and it stops them thinking things have all gone wrong!

10. Be Honest When Things Go Wrong

If you’re honest about mistakes, people will dislike the mistake, but respect your approach. If you hide the mistakes, they will still dislike the mistake, but they will also distrust your approach. Honesty can melt resistance.

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