Getting the whole team on board with a change in systems or policies can be a real challenge, even when it’s definitely for the better. Change affects the whole team, from the ground-level employees who will be doing their jobs differently to the administrators, managers, and decision-makers who will be putting into place and managing these changes. That’s why it’s important to take steps to smoothly influence a change that will positively affect your company in the long run. After all, change that doesn’t last isn’t change; it’s a fad.
The Change Management Process: Tools & Tips
Have a clear plan and be transparent about it.
Sturdy leadership is evident when the leader has a plan in the short-term and the long-term. A well-made plan shows that you’ve made all the essential considerations and that you know how to make the change happen. Communicate that plan clearly and often. Transparency in this step will be essential.
Put the audience first. New software and new policies might sound good to you because you’re thinking about it at a higher level that involves the whole company and its future. However, the word “change” can sound like “pressure” or “failure” or “more work” to the people actually coping with and implementing the change. Be sensitive to how this change might sound to your employees and colleagues.
Influencing positive change is all about understanding the needs and concerns of the audience. Consider what it is that’s making them afraid and what the stakes are for them. Listen to their concerns. Take the time to actively seek to learn about their problems with the change. Then, address those fears, stakes, and problems by clarifying any misunderstandings and ensuring that they’ve been heard.
Frame the change honestly.
Once you’ve communicated that you’ve listened to and acknowledged the concerns of your skeptics, you need to own up to the negative aspects of the change that you might have heard about. Use those downsides to form a counterargument that brings about all the good aspects of the change. Try something like, “Yes, it will take more work to implement right now. But, what we can’t forget is that this hard work now will simplify our jobs and make us more productive in three months.” Use facts and statistics along with pathos to counter purely emotional appeals.
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Emphasize your values.
A foundation of values makes this part of the change management process essential. If the company values honesty, trust, and open communication, not only should you demonstrate those values throughout the change management process, but you should show how this change demonstrates those values.
Incentivizing your employees to whole-heartedly accept change might mean making some concessions during the hard work of implementation. You can consider financial incentives for the top performers, but that might alienate employees who don’t feel motivated to do a good job with something they dislike. Instead, whole-team treats, snacks, or lunches might be a good way to boost morale and could serve as a space for communicating about challenges encountered.
Check in with employees regarding the change or the new system. If something isn’t working, you need to hear about it so you can come up with solutions. Avoid the assumption that there are no problems even if you aren't hearing about those problems. Actively search for those solutions, which might mean making phone calls or arranging meetings to get information. This step also proves the importance of communication throughout the process, even when you think the process might be complete.
The challenge of getting your whole company onto a new system or adopting a new policy can be worth it in the end if you have a plan and you follow through on that plan with solid leadership and human empathy. Putting people first will make your company thrive.
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