All business have to be flexible to survive the constant flux going on in and around them. We all know that change and uncertainty are inevitable on some level, but do we all know how to handle it?
Some people enjoy a constantly evolving work environment, however not all employees or even leaders share the same levels of enthusiasm.
Uncertainty for some can be a nightmare: Routine goes out of the window, jobs can look insecure, familiar faces might be replaced, and as a result of countless similar factors, some employees are left feeling lost at sea with no captain.
So, as a business owner, leader or manager, what do you need to do to help your crew get through turbulent times?
1. Start with communication
Almost every article on employee motivation will tell you to communicate – it’s usually the basis for effective management, and for good reason! Communication is crucial during any transitional period, as it helps people to feel like they have a better handle on the situation. As the checklist for managing change from CMI says: ‘Communicate as much as you can and as often as possible about what is going on and why’.
If the future of the company is only discussed in whispers or behind closed doors, even your most relaxed employee is going to start wondering what you’re hiding. If this goes on for too long, your workforce begins to feel alienated from management, rumours start to fly and the inevitable happens: People start to leave.
You need to be as open as possible. Of course, every single person in the company doesn’t need to know every single detail, but frequent dialogue about the bigger picture and what that means for your staff is very important if you’re going to make people feel involved and keep them motivated.
2. Develop an understanding of your employees
Change management will be conducted more smoothly when you understand your people. Your best option here is to gain insight into the behavioural characteristics of your employees, and use this information when you are communicating change to them.
By evaluating how each employee is likely to react to any organisational change, you will know who to tell in what way, and also who to rely on in order to help you implement change. You may find that you have leaders who are change resistant, and find that you actually have some employees who could rise to the task of guiding your teams through the transitional period.
Knowing how people are going to react makes it a lot easier to motivate your staff throughout any transition, which prevents a drop in staff morale.
3. Build trust
You need to introduce and manage change in a way that means you retain the trust and commitment of your teams. By communicating and getting to understand your employees, trust should already be building between you. If your workforce feels that you are taking the time to really understand them and keep them in the loop, they will react to you and your leadership more positively, creating an upward spiral in terms of positive working relationships.
An important point here is that you also need to show emotion. If you are worried, it’s ok for your employees to know this to a certain extent. Likewise, if you’re excited about the new direction of the company, you should express this. Employees do not want machines for leaders, they want you to show your humanity. In doing this, you will earn their trust, meaning that they will have confidence in you and believe that you are leading them in the right direction, thus keeping them engaged and motivated.
Of course, there are many other factors involved, but using these three points as a strategy for managing times of change will have a huge impact. Leading with an awareness of the needs of your workforce will keep your teams on board with change implementation, and ensure that they remain motivated and open through tough times.
Do you have experience of change management? What do you think works best? Let us know in the comments!
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