We share some of the key themes identified by leaders during that forum, including what they felt was the greatest contributor to poorly managed change.
Change – The new normal
91% of leaders on the webinar reported having to manage change on a regular basis, and the main concerns they had about poorly managed change were resulting decreases in employee morale, impact on employee wellbeing, lack of productivity and a decrease in psychological engagement.
When questioned about the greatest contributor to poorly managed change, 56% reported it was due to a lack of communication.
We would agree that a key component to effective change management is communication. So how can a leader improve the communication around change, particularly in situations when the change is dictated by others?
Communication – Key strategies for leaders
- Employees will respond best when they receive communication about change from someone within their group or team. So even if a change is initially communicated by a distant executive, a team leader can sit their team down to discuss the change, the consequences, the team’s reactions, and possible responses to the change. This direct communication from someone they have a relationship with, will help reduce the potential threat response.
- Start the communication about change by talking about what is currently not working. If your team sees nothing wrong with the current situation, they will be more resistant to the idea of changing. If you can help them understand why current procedures are ineffective before introducing the change, they are more likely to respond positively.
- Back yourself, and back the change. Don’t let your team know that you are not 100% confident in the change. They need to know there is a plan and the change will help the organisation move towards that vision.
- Emphasise what stays the same, and what is working well. Reassure your team that while change may be occurring in a specific area of their work, there are no plans to change processes that are functioning effectively.
- Finally, let your team communicate with you. Provide them with ample opportunities to talk about their reactions to the change, feedback or input on the change itself, and their plan on how to respond to the change. A team who feels they can communicate with their leader openly and honestly about upcoming changes are more likely to feel in control and experience a less negative reaction.
When faced with change or uncertainty, employees can become distracted and expose themselves to unnecessary risk, or potentially turn to unhelpful coping strategies that can have a negative impact on their wellbeing. Using these simple communication strategies can help manage the change process more effectively and improve the likelihood that your people will respond positively to change.