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How to Help Your Employees Deal With Change

September 11th, 2012 ::

By Maria Valdez Haubrich

In today’s business environment, the only constant is change. So you’d think your employees would be used to change by now, right? Wrong. It’s human nature to resist change, so whether you are making big changes (pivoting your business model) or small ones (changing the procedure for customer service), employees are likely to drag their heels—at least at first. How can you help employees to not only accept, but embrace change? Try these tips.

  1. Acknowledge their resistance. When they hear about something new, employees’ first instinct is to worry, “How will this affect me?” They might fear losing their jobs, getting demoted or not being able to handle the new duties they’re assigned. Your first step is to acknowledge employees will have issues with change, and to encourage them to tell you what their concerns are. Otherwise, employees will just grumble among themselves, and dissatisfaction will build.
  2. Address their fears. Once you know what is bothering your employees about the proposed changes, you can discuss them in a specific and detailed way that will help lessen their worries. For instance, instead of brushing aside their concerns with “Don’t worry, it will all work out,” you can say, “I know you’re concerned about learning this new process in time for our busy season. That’s why we’re going to send you to a training course that will give you the help you need.”
  3. Get the whole team involved. Change often comes from the “top down,” making employees feel like it’s being forced on them. To encourage acceptance of the change, you need to explain the reasoning behind it, how it will affect the company and what role each employee will play in making it happen. When employees feel ownership of an idea, they’re more likely to support its implementation.
  4. Communicate. If you’re making a big change, you’re probably busy and overwhelmed, but now is not the time to disappear and pull back you’re your team. You need to get out there and interact with employees so you can communicate on a daily basis about the progress of the change and hear new issues that arise. Without clear communication, employees start making things up and rumors begin to run wild.
  5. Reward your team. Make sure you keep morale up by measuring progress toward the change and rewarding your employees for each step toward the final goal. That could be acknowledging someone’s contribution in front of the team, holding a Friday beer bash or giving employees a day off when they reach a milestone. Include both individual rewards so employees feel personally acknowledged and team rewards to build camaraderie and spirit.

If you pay attention to all of these steps, change will be much easier for your team to handle—and you’ll get results faster.

Image by Flickr user Vlad Nikitin (Creative Commons)

The views expressed here are the author's alone and not those of Network Solutions or its partners.

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Posted in Small Business, small business, Workforce | 2 Comments »

  • Tara Rushmer

    Great article! I really like the first point, acknowledge their resistance. I think this can be forgotten a lot but it is really important because, like you said, if you don’t employees will just grumble among themselves, and dissatisfaction will build.

  • Anonymous

    It’s so easy to characterize the resistance as a negative. A lot of times it’s based on a desire for security. It’s also a warning that something about the way the change is being conducted is too disruptive. Attention to the people (acknowledgement, addressing fears and communication) are the cornerstones to handling the disruption so it’s less uncomfortable.