Help Your Employees Cope With Change
Reviewed Apr 16, 2012
Nobody likes change—except for wet babies. Or so the old saying goes. But change has seemed the only constant for employees in an age of reorganization, redeployment and restructuring. In uncertain times, employees turn to their supervisors as a key source of information, seeking guidance and coping skills. Senior management also expects supervisors to keep employees energized and motivated so that productivity and customer service don’t suffer.
Helping employees adapt to any and all changes that affect them on the job is a major part of the manager’s job. By doing this effectively, you will minimize the unproductive time spent in adapting to new organizational structure, technology, techniques and workplace strategies.
Adapting and staying motivated
George Fuller, author of Win-Win Management: Leading People in the New Workplace, advises managers to be “prepared to answer a multitude of questions, some of which may not always be sensible and many of which will be repetitive. Your patience may well be tested at times, but don’t forget that helping your employees adjust will make it easier when future changes take place.”
Fuller advises 4 ways to help employees adapt to change and stay motivated:
- Stay accessible. Whenever there is a change in the workplace, employee anxiety can run high. Make sure employees know that your door is open. Their constant questions can disrupt your work schedule, so you may need to come in a little earlier or stay later to concentrate on your own tasks.
- Explain the basis for change. Once employees understand the reasons for change, they feel less threatened. The needs of employees will vary with the type of change. Some change may just be procedural and require little more than a brief explanation. Major events such as mergers and reorganizations will take more time.
- Don’t undermine top management change by being critical. Be as forthright as possible. Avoid conveying a negative attitude. Even if you think senior management didn’t handle the situation in the right way, don’t put your career at risk or undermine any change by criticizing it.
- Show results. Point out the positive results after a change takes place. This makes it easier to convince employees to accept other changes in the future. Refer to a successful change if you meet resistance when introducing something new.
Re-energizing your team after downsizing
Has your group recently gone through a round of layoffs? Is everyone looking over their shoulders and wondering if they’re next? How can you keep your employees motivated and focused on the job? Bob Nelson, author of 1,001 Ways to Energize Employees, recommends 6 steps:
- Communicate all information to all employees all the time.
- Gather employees from different levels and areas for a brown-bag lunch. Ask what they would change in the organization and how they’d change it.
- Encourage employees to improve one process, procedure or aspect of their job, every day.
- Give employees permission to say “yes” to customers and the resources to do so.
- Break down barriers between departments.
Encourage employees to set aside time every day to focus uninterrupted on their highest priority tasks.
by Rosalyn Kulick
© 1999 Achieve Solutions®