Every company considers rolling out workforce change at one point or another. The economy is tumultuous and volatile, and companies must consider every possible way to remain competitive. That can mean a reduction of workforce, elimination of a well-established policy or procedure, or even radical reorganization the company itself.
The announcement of impending changes in the workplace can elicit emotions ranging from mild discomfort to full-out fear or panic; it can also trigger intense resistance from some employees. And while all of these are difficult hurdles to overcome, often the most significant stumbling block is how a company’s employees will handle (or fail to manage) the actual change. Many organizations don’t prepare their staff for a change, and that can mean disaster. It can undermine a company’s ability to achieve the very outcomes the change was designed to create.
Smart companies fully understand the inextricable connection between preparing your employees to accept planned workforce change and the successful implementation of new initiatives. If you’re planning on rolling out workforce change, here are a few important things to keep in mind.
Communication is Crucial
Effective communication is the cornerstone of change management. You must be able to effectively communicate your vision and plan throughout your entire company. Constant, consistent communication about all phases of the impending changes will help your workforce feel secure despite potential uncertainties. By laying out the details in clear, understandable terms, employees know what to expect. Consider a weekly email update or posting on the company intranet. When possible, explain the business rationale behind the given or intended action; it will reduce anxiety and fear. Knowledge and understanding calm anxiety; uncertainty feeds it.
Don’t Just Talk, Listen
Effective communication goes both ways. Listen carefully to staff concerns about upcoming changes and provide detailed responses. Even if you don’t have all the answers, proving partial information is another way of reassuring your workforce that their concern has been actually heard.
Be open and upfront about potential challenges or difficulties employees may experience as a result of your proposed changes. By doing so, you’re helping to reduce stress and doubt within the workforce. Any concerns that may pop up as a result of your transparency should be addressed immediately.
Acknowledge the Old Ways
Recognize how things have been done in the past and acknowledge employees who excelled within the old methodology. Share with employees how those talents will help their transition and adjustment to the new set of responsibilities.
Being accessible to your team is always important, but during times of change, being connected is downright critical. Regardless of how busy you are, carve out a half-hour or so to connect with your staff. It’s an excellent opportunity to gather ground-level information and personally see how your workforce is experiencing the change. Be on the look out for any traces of resistance to the new ways that may be starting to brew; this is a perfect opportunity to deal with those issues before they boil over.
Change is never easy. In the workplace, it can provoke feelings of job insecurity and uncertainty. By demonstrating open, honest interest in the well-being of everyone involved, you’ll ensure that your workplace stays productive during times of change.