By Stuart Duff, Head of Development, Pearn Kandola
We are all under constant pressure to change, whether that’s changing our work practices, changing habits that are no longer helpful or simply keeping up with new ways of working and living.
In the workplace, we are invariably having to change our routines or adapt to changing expectations and, whilst some employees will embrace the opportunity, for many others, it will feel both psychologically and physically demanding.
The reason for this is that change causes us to question our ability to do things differently. It means letting go of what is comfortable, familiar and safe, and embracing what is new and untested. Taking on change – even positive change – creates a risk of failure.
For example, getting promoted at work is seen as an event that should be celebrated, yet many people experience difficulty transitioning into the new role, as there are often new expectations, responsibilities and challenges.
It’s essential that employers who are leading during a period of change recognise these challenges and educate employees on how they can manage them. So, if you have come to the conclusion that a change of any kind is beneficial and necessary, here are five tips for your team or employees who are experiencing a period of change.
- Be aware of your own reactions to change: Recognise when you are feeling anxious or angry about a change and remind yourself that – while these are natural reactions – they are not going to help you in any way. Channel feelings of excitement and enthusiasm. This will leave you feeling more positive and will help to accept the change.
2. Embrace change rather than resist it: Resisting change that is going to happen regardless will cause you to feel stuck and isolated, rather than motivated and engaged. Embrace what is happening and try to be as involved as possible. By doing this, you’ll feel part of the team and able to contribute to the direction of the change.
3. Find role models: Look at others who are further ahead in accepting the change. Seeing others who have successfully adopted changes can provide useful reassurance that the change isn’t to be feared.
4. Evolution not revolution: It’s easy to feel that change has to be an overnight transition. Change is often much more successful and beneficial when small steps are taken. Try to make a large change feel more manageable by changing smaller everyday habits within your processes or teams.
5. Look to the end: Remember that 99 times out of 100, the process of change leaves us feeling more experienced and more able to adapt in the future. It may not happen straight away, but with time and patience these feelings may well develop. It’s important to bear in mind that change enables change.
A culture of continuous change and improvement often prevents organisations or businesses from stagnating, helping to maintain their competitive edge. However, any change must be properly managed and time must be allocated for a consultation period. That way, employees have time to understand what is going to happen, how it will impact them and have the opportunity to ask any questions they may have in advance.
Leaders need to create an atmosphere which allows time and space to raise constructive criticism and suggest alternatives. It is important for employees to feel as though they are able to offer constructive feedback to those running the change management process and to not to be consumed by worrying about the consequences of opposing the impending change.
Providing one-on-one coaching for those who fear change the most will be beneficial. During these sessions, it’s important to actively listen to their concerns and reiterate the benefits or the shared vison behind the planned change. Combined, these should achieve the reassurance required.
In every walk of life though, there will be people who resist change and take an ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ approach to a new adjustment. Addressing a reluctance to change requires leaders to recognise that everyone experiences it in different ways.
Ultimately, it’s vital to remember the importance of the human element. The three factors that contribute most strongly to an employee’s relationship with change are often information, participation and trust in management.
So, when implementing any change, keep your employees informed and involved in order to get the buy-in you need to make meaningful change happen.