Managing change in the workplace

'On the Job'

Managing change in the workplace

No company is immune to change. From downsizing to mergers and buyouts, any company can transform overnight given the right circumstances. Although moves like these can help a company stay competitive, these changes will lead to major organizational changes and other disruptions that can have a negative impact on employees.

If you’re in a management or leadership position, it can be extremely challenging to help employees overcome the worries naturally associated with any major change in their work situation, but it is possible. Here are 5 ways you can help:

1. Fix what you can fix.

You won’t have control over everything, but if there are concerns and issues you can assist with, use your skills and knowledge to make a positive difference. After gathering input from your employees, you may find you can fix some issues quickly, while others may take more time. Sometimes just a reassuring word from a manager can powerfully and positively impact employees during times of uncertainty and change.

2. Train and prepare.

Provide opportunities for employees to learn to deal with change. This may mean offering them training in new skills they’ll find useful or even necessary in the new work environment. Change can be more easily handled if those dealing with it have the necessary skills and experience. With training and preparation, employees can transition into new roles, organizations or even industries.

3. Pay attention.

Change can be unsettling for everyone, negatively affecting the entire workplace. If changes are looming for your organization, make sure you take the time to watch and listen to employees to help them cope. Fear and anxieties may be expressed directly to you at times, but in many instances, they may become apparent by changes in performance or behavior. If impending change is bound to threaten stable employee routines and comfort, listen to the pulse of your company, and then appropriately take steps to address and relieve it.

4. Show genuine concern.

During difficult and stressful times, an employee will look to his or her boss for solutions and guidance. As a leader, show transparency and honesty and open the lines of communication between employees and management. When you encourage input, you’re showing you genuinely care about the welfare of those who work for you. This not only allows employees to feel free, safe and comfortable sharing what concerns them, but transparency also allows solutions to come to the surface.

5. Look for the positivity and the opportunity.

Any time is a good time to think of appropriate responses to new challenges, but times of change especially allow for creative solutions. Remain positive as your organization transforms. But consider also challenging employees to take initiative and seek out new ideas on how to rework things like standard policies and procedures. This will encourage them to keep moving forward, instead of fixating on what’s going wrong or events they can’t control.

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