Change is everywhere. We do not only experience it in our personal but also in our professional lives. To keep up with competition, companies all over the world are constantly evolving: They're hiring new people, launching new product lines and installing new machinery. If those companies, however, don't manage the change correctly, employees often endure some discomfort. It messes with their routines, and they feel uncertain about their jobs and their performance. It's up to you as a manager to guide your employees through this process and manage the change as seamless as possible!
First of all, it's important that your employees know what's going on. As a manager imposing the change, you should communicate a clear strategy and vision of what's about to happen. If you are for example implementing new software, give them specifics, a timetable, and a roll-out plan. When employees have a good idea of what the change entails, they feel more at ease and are more likely to be open towards the new implementations.
The people affected by the change prefer to know the purpose of the change. If your company has an efficient assembly line, your production line workers might consider a new manufacturing system to be redundant. You thus must communicate a sense of urgency and stress the fact that the change will help with certain issues the company is currently struggling with. If the new system lightens their workload and speeds up the production process, they are more likely to comply with the suggested changes.
It is practically impossible to convince all your employees one by one of a new system or structure that you want to implement. Individuals however are generally easily influenced by certain ‘opinion leaders' in the company. A good approach as a manager is to identify those leaders among the team and to talk with those leaders first so that they can be ambassadors of the change and can help convince the rest of the employees.
During a turbulent period in a company, it is very easy to comprehend that employees could use some support with their tasks. On the one hand, this can be emotional support, where you listen to the concerns of your employees, stimulate them in the adaptation process and reassure them about the impact of the change. On the other hand, you can provide actual instrumental support, where you can organise for example a warm-up workshop when a new tool is being introduced. In both cases, employees feel reinforced by the management, whichever form the support might take.
Involving your employees in the roll-out of the changes has proven to strengthen positive attitudes towards the changes. Imagine how you would feel when suddenly someone tells you that you'll have to do your job entirely different from now on. You would prefer to be included in the decision so you can articulate your point of view. Your employees should be participating in the change efforts as soon as possible and not just at the very end. The employee himself is namely often the perfect source to help diagnose issues on his job. Use this to the company's advantage!
But even after the change has been implemented, the work isn't over. You have to follow-up on further developments and the well-being of your employees. It might be a good idea to share the outcome (and hopefully the success) of the changes. This can serve as a reinforcement towards the employees and is a confirmation for the employees that the decision for change was the right one.
It's crucial that you encourage a company culture where change isn't feared. Everyone in the organisation should realise that change will continue to happen and that not a single change is without hazards. Obstacles will occur at one point or another (before, during or after implementing it). As a manager, you should be aware of these hurdles and try to eliminate them as soon as possible, preferably in collaboration with the relevant employees! You must, however, keep in mind that resistance to change from your employees can be a powerful feedback tool as well. When you pay attention to their opinions, you could plan and execute a more efficient change!
Don't hesitate to contact us if you have any issues or questions about implementing change in your company!