Change Management, Related Posts Featured Boaz AmidorUpdated March 11, 2021

4 Phases of Employee Distress & How to Handle Them

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4 Phases of Employee Distress & How to Handle Them

Oftentimes employees react negatively when hearing about a proposed organizational change because a fear of the unknown. Let’s take a look at four main phases that employees typically go through during periods of organizational change and how you can best handle them.

1. We’re Doing WHAT? The Initial Shock

New changes can leave employees feeling shocked and frustrated. People invest a lot of time in preserving old habits. Change pulls people out of their comfort zone and forces them to adapt. As a result, you should expect employees to initially resist the proposed change. Show your employees that you understand their concerns and attempt to assuage their fears. Take notice of challenges faced by different employees and make sure to address their specific concerns head-on. Encourage a positive environment to keep everyone motivated through the transition.

2. How Do We DO it? Employee Guidance

Even more flexible employees will experience some discomfort during organizational changes. You’ll need to guide employees through the process of how the change will be implemented. Organize office meetings to discuss and collaborate between workers. Leverage learning tools to assist in the transition. For example, let’s say employees are expected to use a new software program like a new CRM platform. Guidance and engagement tools make it easier for employees to learn new software by walking users through training with pop-up arrows and instructions.

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3. Can We TALK About it? A Culture of Dialogue

The culture of the company will play a major factor in how employees accept organizational changes. As a manager, you play a substantial role in determining the mood in the office and the reactions employees have during a transitional phase. Create an environment that permits open dialogue. HR should set up meetings with each employee and create a comfortable space for open communication. In this way, loyal employees can vent their frustrations in a professional manner, with the understanding that their voice is being heard, but without fearing of suffering repercussions.


4. We Need TIME

Organizational changes will require a certain adjustment period before things become routine. Allow employees time to adjust. This may mean productivity will slow down temporarily. Provide the right assistance to employees who have questions or feel confused during the transition to ensure the adjustment period goes as smoothly as possible. If the change discussed is the adoption of a new software program, consider online guidance tools that help employees navigate programs that they aren’t yet familiar with.

Good luck with whatever organizational change your company is embarking on! For a more easy going, funny take on employee reactions to organizational change, check out this article that uses CATS to demonstrate common employee reactions to change!

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