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Getting Ready for Big Changes
Robin Whitehouse

Although change is necessary, it is one of the most difficult things for people to adapt to. People naturally resist change, but it is becoming more important than ever that individuals be agile when it comes to a changing work environment. Companies can prepare their employees for coming changes by using a few simple tactics. These will ensure that when larger-scale changes appear, they, and the entire company are ready to take them on.

Encourage positive thinking

A culture that focuses on the negatives of a situation first will always struggle with getting acceptance for major changes. Before these big changes even happen, leaders, and the company in general, should be promoting a positivity-focused workplace. This doesnít mean that employees should forego critical thinking and communication for being overly compliant and agreeable. It just means that employees should be encouraged to focus on the positive aspects of a situation before the negatives. This also encourages employees to keep their aim on finding solutions, rather than pointing out problems.

When a change is about to happen, leaders should also present the positive points first. This allows employees to see how the change can actually benefit them, before getting too caught up in how much of an inconvenience it will be.

Start with the leaders

If the leaders in an organization are not on board with company initiatives, it is naÔve to think that the rest of the employees will be too. When it comes to change, all leaders should be on the same page, and should present a united front. This will ensure that when employees ask questions or present concerns about the coming changes, that the responses they receive are consistent.

The problem a lot of people have with change is fear, and fear spreads very easily. If leaders are not able to quench it, it will develop quickly in their employees when big changes occur, and it can spread throughout the organization. Resistance to change, and fear of change, will ultimately cause some major changes and implementations to fail as a result. If leaders are sufficiently prepared, all of their subordinates will be too.

Be inclusive

One factor that can promote fear as a result of change is feeling powerless. If an organization includes their employees in the process of making big changes, it may help encourage them to feel more in control and can decrease the negative effects of a major change in the workplace.

In addition, done properly, including employee input when working on big changes in the workplace can be beneficial for innovation and collaboration. It might be something to consider, depending on the level of changes that are being considered.

Be honest and upfront

Honesty is a key factor when it comes to change management. However, it is not something that can be practiced on an ad hoc basis. Companies need to ensure that their organization promotes honesty through and through. This will ensure that when change comes about, employees arenít suspicious about the companyís ulterior motives or what the change ďreally meansĒ. These kinds of thoughts encourage apprehension and distrust among employees and should be avoided at all costs.

In the period leading up to a major change, companies and organizations should tell their employees as much as possible, without betraying internal corporate secrets or confidential information. That said, consideration needs to be given to what information is considered confidential and why. Because we say so is not going to cut it. Questions from employees should be answered openly, and shared publicly with the other employees, if possible. The change exercise will flounder unless all employees feel that nothing is being hidden from them unnecessarily and that all the information they need is on the table.

Prepare the team

When changes occur, it can be expected that productivity will initially go down for a period of time before returning to normal. People need to be given the opportunity to get used to whatever has just occurred. However, they also need to be given proper training and adequate time to learn about any new equipment or processes that may have been implemented. No matter what the change is, preparation and support needs to be implemented to ensure that the team is prepared for the change and is able to manage once it has been made.

Communication is key.

Open communication is as essential as honesty when it comes to change. It is a must when undergoing change to establish a communication loop and to get feedback from employees on an on-going basis. Leaders may know all the details of the change, but they may forget sometimes that many other employees may still in the dark. When changes are about to occur, and especially while they are occurring, employees and leaders need to ensure that they are communicating as efficiently as possible.

If there is a solid base of communication already encouraged and practiced in the company, this will be an even easier task to undertake. Either way, communication is a key component to avoiding many of the inevitable problems that are likely to occur during workplace changes.

This Month
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