The unknown is scary. Changes in businesses, whether for better or worse, forces employees to give up their safe routines. Safety equals comfort and something like a merger, buy-out or downsize will make many feel as if their job or future at the company is vulnerable or in jeopardy.
Change is a huge part of any businesses’ development and there will undoubtedly be disgruntled, worried and unsettled members of staff. Berating employees for their natural reaction is not an option as everybody is entitled to their own feelings. Although there is no way of impacting your staff’s initial reaction to proposed business change, there are ways to prepare them and help them be more susceptible.
Be Extremely Transparent
There is nothing worse than Chinese whispers and hearsay in the workplace. News that ebbs its ways from the top in any business will create a feeling of tension and set everything off on the wrong foot. More often than not, employees have a sixth sense and can tell when something is happening out of the ordinary. This is when things can escalate negatively due to lack of clarity.
Business owners and senior staff must be extremely open when it comes to discussing change. The worst thing you can do is keep information between a select number of staff as those without the know will feel deceived and kept in the dark. Giving your staff the why, when and how of the change is imperative and, no matter if for the worse, you cannot spare any detail. Transparency is key.
Listen and Demonstrate Concern
Regardless of whether the change is big or small, observe your employees and see what everyone is saying about the restructure or modification. Unhappiness with looming changes can created anxiety, culminating in staff off sick or low productivity levels in the workplace.
Detecting this discontent is key and many leaders realise they can’t push their business forward without the support of a happy team. Happy employees produce better work. Unhappy staff will look to senior leaders for solutions during times of organisational upheaval and it is best to have all lines of communication open.
An open-door policy is ideal and employees should not feel intimidated to voice their concerns. Freedom of expression will allow for problems to be solved quickly and effectively.
Highlight the Positives
Regardless of whether the change is detrimental to the company or not, always seek opportunity. Remaining positive and encouraging employees to do so, perhaps by thinking of new ideas or solutions, makes employees feel valued when things are unsettled.
Ensuring that staff are part of the process of moving forward means there is a focus upon what can and will be done. This saves everyone from focusing upon events which they have zero control over. There are going to be challenges and the creative solutions from staff should be championed.
Fix What You Can
After listening to your employees don’t give them false promises to smooth things over. If you are a senior member of staff and have control over something that can be fixed, do it. Unhappiness and anger in staff often stems from miscommunication, misunderstandings and unfulfilled actions.
After taking your employees feelings and ideas on board act upon their concerns. Whether the fix is simple or complex, if you have the power to resolve worry, do it. When employees feel like they are being listened to it can have a profound effect on the atmosphere of the work place.
If there is honestly nothing you can do to rectify any problems caused by change, be honest with your staff. There is no shame in not being able to deliver every solution to every disgruntled employee and you will find that honesty is definitely the best policy.
Training and Support
There is nothing worse than forcing your employees to deal with process and procedure changes without ample training. Teaching and support should be top of the agenda for staff and this will eliminate any stress. Being fully prepared to take on new tasks is key and will make any transition go much more seamlessly.
It is inevitably that staff will feel a variety of negative emotions when it comes to change. Uncertainty is unnerving. However, by providing transparent information, listening to staff, making adjustments and providing thorough training will benefit the change process immensely.