Change is like a tornado that we are always unprepared for!

Companies all over the world are continuously adapting to the ever-turbulent change bestowed upon them. The days of stability, consistency and security are long gone. Companies are either in a state of downsizing, restructuring, re-engineering or being bought; everybody and everything is in flux. We know that this constant change is the new norm; however, it doesn’t make it easier for us to cope with it. Throughout this change-mania, companies often underestimate the severe impact this state of flux has on the employees’ level of well-being.

We may believe that people develop a natural resilience that allows them to bounce back quicker, adapt and move on from change. Perhaps it’s possible, but that applies to the minority of people. Most employees struggle with change as the impact is frequently deeper than meets the eye. Noticeable symptoms that we are not coping with change are an increase in our stress levels, heightened risk of burnout, work overload, job insecurity, resentment, anger, or the fear of being made redundant. With change, the survivor syndrome automatically kicks in and everybody looks after themselves. “What’s in it for me?” becomes the instinctive way of thinking and behaving bringing on resistance and negativity towards the change process.

But this doesn’t have to be the predetermined scenario. We can turn the change-process into a more inclusive, supportive manner for employees by addressing how we manage change differently. Here are some suggestions on “What to avoid when going through change” as well as some suggestions on “What is best practice”.

What not to do

  1. Sending out mixed and confusing messages
  2. Not engaging with negative, resisting employees in the hope that they will “come around”
  3. Imposing one-way communication
  4. Downplaying the change process and going over to business as usual
  5. Being hooked on the final outcome
  6. Bulldozing and rushing the process
  7. Providing change details and plans to a selective group of individuals
  8. Not being exactly clear on what the change actually entails nor for whom
  9. Ignoring the fact that change means personal change is necessary

Best practice to manage change:

  1. Explain precisely what is going to change and what is not
  2. Openly discuss why the change is necessary and what other options were considered
  3. Let people know who is affected and how can they be best supported
  4. Discuss the various phases of change
  5. Map out how the change progress will be measured
  6. Triple your communication levels to everybody
  7. Allow people to adjust, adapt and align their mindset’s over time
  8. Talk things through with everybody over and over and over
  9. Address all areas of concern; answer questions honestly and with integrity and transparency
  10. Develop a leadership culture ready to embrace change
  11. Remain consistent in dialogue and interactions

When change moves from day to day improvements to major business decisions, learn to slow down, think things through, ask copious amounts of questions, dig deep, explore alternatives, talk ideas and concepts through, involve others and only then design a detailed practical focused change management plan.

For change to be successful and beneficial you need to take your employees with you on the journey of transition. A third of all re-engineering tactics fail and thirty-three percent of people said that they were worse off after the re-engineering efforts. The reason in both scenarios is that not enough time was spent on focused plans that allowed employees to realign and adapt their mindsets.