As I said before, assume that people will always react to change…good or bad. It doesn’t matter if the change is major or if it’s a minor change to a process. People react! So how do you as a Manager handle your team’s reaction to a change.
Before you can evaluate your team’s reactions, you first need to become aware of your own.
How Are You Reacting to Change?
- Do you support the change 100%?
- If not, why? You may have no choice but to implement a change. How do you motivate your staff when you are not entirely behind it? It’s important to understand your own reactions, as they will permeate all your efforts to get your team on board.
- If the change is companywide, never express to your staff that “the senior management” wants this done now. Why? You are sending several messages to your team….you are not behind it and you don’t take full responsibility for your role as their manager. The latter is a habit your staff will quickly pick up.
- There is probably too much work to do that it feels like a luxury to stop and reflect on your staff’s reactions. Your team is here to work, so they need to get on board quickly. Though I do agree that businesses need to move quickly in this competitive environment, it’s important to add to the planning stage how employees may react to this change. Without an understanding of your team’s potential reaction, you may not successfully implement the change. Remember change occurs at the employee level.
- What is your response to your employee’s reactions: Are you annoyed, do you judge them for reacting, or are you accepting and understand that people react.
- Are you knowledgeable about the business reasons for the change. Managers are strapped for time and have many responsibilities, so they don’t always get all of the details. Employees will recognize that information is missing… and will fill in the blanks…so be informed.
How to Support Your Team Members
Some individuals fast track changes; others need to handle each step deliberately.
- As employees become aware that there is a change brewing, communicate to them as soon as possible. The grapevine is very powerful and disruptive, so it’s smart to decrease potential negative responses.
- Make a list of all your employees and assess who is potentially impacted and how they may react to the change. Find your champion, as well as your greatest resister. Both of them will be your partners in implementing a successful change…though for different reasons. Your champions will help promote the change. Your resisters will help you with your design of the change and communication.
- Try to include your staff members in the process…gather their concerns as soon as possible. They may also have important points to add to the change process.
- Create a communication plan right from the beginning and keep adding important messages to send out.
- Let them know that changes will evolve and you will inform them along the way…and do communicate regularly.
- Stress the benefits to them and let them know how this change will make it easier for them.
- Listen to them…listen to their concerns, their fears, their input.
Watch for Obvious and Subtle Resistances
Employees have different styles in resisting change. If you anticipate ahead of time potential areas of resistance, you can create a solution to handle the situation.
- The employee who seems on board, but never is able to implement the change.
- Employee is still confused about what to do even though you or someone else have given them instructions several times.
- How does the employee respond to the change….actively asking questions or passively accepting the change.
- Are they challenging the change…it doesn’t make sense to them.
- Do they have a low tolerance to change? Any change creates anxiety for them.
- How about a very limited view of why the change is necessary…only see how it affects them.
- Talk negatively to other employees about the change.
Since change is ongoing, you have probably experienced situations with employees and change. The more analysis you can do upfront helps you communicate the change in an effective and productive manner.
Plan the Changes