8 Steps For Helping Your Workforce Accept Change
Organizations of all sizes are drastically changing how and where their staff work now more than ever. External and internal factors include growth, lack of growth, economic cycles, emerging technologies, shifts in the competitive landscape, figuring out how to lead this generational workforce best, cultural gaps, communication challenges and COVID-19. One of the most critical roles a leader has is to drive the necessary change and evangelize its importance. Obtaining buy-in and protecting the company culture is vital, and this can only be done with clear and consistent communication and follow-through.
Here are eight crucial steps for helping the team accept and even help push change within an organization.
1 - State the Change
Whether the change is perceived to be major or minor, the leaders must be able to clearly articulate what the difference is all about, why it’s essential and what the positive outcomes of the change will be. What does winning look like on the other side of the change? Change must be led from the top down. Senior leaders must get all the managers on the same page before communicating the message to the rest of the company. That way, the other team leaders in the company are prepared to answer questions and concerns as needed.
2 - Listen to Feedback
The team’s voice must be heard. And chances are, many people on the team have most likely been begging for change and know what is needed. Getting their feedback will assist in smooth transitions and gaining their buy-in. There are varying forms of change that occur in organizations. The first type needs no explanation, and everyone understands the need and why it’s happening. The next type is similar in that the team generally understands the need, but the “why” requires more explanation. Other types of change are either misinterpreted or have an adverse effect. Gaining feedback throughout the change process will hold everyone accountable and help maintain alignment.
3 - Acknowledge the Feedback
Collecting feedback from the team is important, but even more important is acknowledging that feedback. I recommend obtaining team feedback during the beginning, middle and end of the change process. The after-action-review is important for the learning process. Don’t leave that part out! This doesn’t have to be a formal process. Getting feedback during casual conversation is fine. But I do suggest having an anonymous survey at some point during times of change. Employees will feel more comfortable being transparent. The last step is the most important. The leadership team must reflect on the feedback, tell the team what they are “hearing” from the feedback, and then some action must be taken.
4 - Use Emotional Intelligence
Leaders must lead by example in this regard. Change can be scary for the team, and showing compassion and empathy are essential. Leaders must communicate clearly, show discipline and be transparent. Emotional intelligence is not a soft-side leadership strategy as it may sometimes be perceived. Leaders that actively practice improving their emotional intelligence are better equipped to drive positive change and guide the team through the inevitable obstacles.
5 - Explain the Why
Everyone wants to know the purpose behind the organizational change. In many businesses, the COVID-19 pandemic has forced rapid change, and remote working is the new normal. Existing time tracking methods may have become ineffective, leading to the requirement of new timesheet capture technologies. Changing how employees record their working day can be very conventional, raise objections and question trust. Explaining the “why” will help the team understand the reasoning behind this change and that the goal to improve their work changes.
6 - Define Clear Roles
Defining the roles and decision-makers is very important. Everyone with a role in driving change must understand who is accountable, responsible and informed. Specific team members must own certain aspects of the change process. Once roles are assigned, make sure that milestones are set, regular check-ins scheduled, and rhythm of communication established.
7 - Provide Training
Most of the time, training will be required. Whether it’s a new system, process, software or an overhaul in customer service, the team needs to be well-trained for the changes to not only stick but to be effective. Leaders must carve out proper time, budget and resources during the rollout period.
8 - Reward Acceptance
Some team members will take well to change and proactively aid in its acceptance while others will be slow to adopt. Have a plan in place to publicly reward those that make the time and effort to embrace change. Especially those that do it with a good attitude and get other team members on board. Change is inevitable. It’s much less painful doing it right the first time. Following these steps will help increase the speed of change and keep morale high during the process.