If your business is about to make a major change, there is no doubt that your employees feel it in the air. No matter how hard we try to keep changes under wraps until we’re ready for the big reveal, the winds of change will probably already be felt.
While every successful business knows that change is inevitable, change is rarely resistance-free. How do you know if your employees are ready for the changes ahead?
In order to help you prepare for the transitions ahead, we have compiled four key questions to ask yourself before you take the leap. These questions can help you reflect on some of your processes which may need tweaking before you move forward.
1. Do Your Employees Trust You?
More importantly, do you trust them?
We live in a time of micromanagement. Organizational structures are so rigid that employees get few chances to exhibit their talents, creativity and flexibility. We spend money to keep them well supervised, often to a fault. As it happens the most micromanaged employees are also the most distrustful of management. Why? Micromanagement is a way in which we exhibit a lack of trust in our employees. So, before you even begin to make a change, ask yourself what you may need to do to build trust and confidence amongst your employees again. Effective change requires independent decision making behavior, trust and creativity amongst your employees. Change that is forced upon a group of employees will rarely be effective, so take the time to build trust, and to help build some leadership skills amongst them.
2. Have you Evaluated your Change History?
Change is inevitable but too much change can cause resistance amongst those employees who have seen it all go terribly before. If you have had an unsuccessful change before, meet with your employees and brainstorm ways to make the next one more successful. This is a good time to establish a cohesive vision for the future. When your employees can help imagine the future of the business, they will be more likely to see themselves as part of that picture. It is OK to make mistakes, but it is better to be fully upfront about the difficulties with your employees.
3. What is your Communication Plan?
This is the most overlooked part of the change process. Not only is it critical to have a communication plan, but it is also critical that your plan utilize a timeline or agenda. When change takes place too slowly, or too quickly you may experience significant push-back. Updates and memos should go out before, during and after the change. Any delays in the process should be communicated to all employees. Remember, the day to day business processes handled by the employees can be affected by even the smallest delay. So keep them a part of the process.
Gartner Analysts recommend listening to employees: “Listen to their concerns to help you learn what other information they need, then get it for them. In some cases, they may just need to develop a higher sense of trust for you and your company.”
4. Do you Reward Innovation?
Being innovative is part of change, but do you reward and acknowledge out-of-the box thinkers on your team? Do you work with your employees to help them build skills which will help them make change successfully? Or do you inadvertently stop them from trying by imposing a set of processes that make it almost impossible to make even the smallest changes? If all changes or updates take place at the management level, you may have a hard time convincing your employees that changes are worthwhile. If you aren’t encouraging innovation, now is the time to make that a priority.
Gartner Analysts agree: “Reward experimentation – regardless of success, reward staff for taking initiative.”
No change happens effectively out of a vacuum. And no change occurs without trust, confidence and communication. If you have considered the questions and are working with your employees to build an effective change management process together, you are well on your way to an effective and exciting transition period.