It seem that the only time people are open to change is when what they have always done no longer works for them. In other words when our needs are no longer being met by previous behaviors, thought patterns or procedures.
Your task as a CEO or manager is to show your staff that this applies to your business as well. When certain procedures and practices no longer meet the needs of your business or organization change is needed.
To facilitate this change you must show respect for both the needs of the business and employees. When your business needs for increased efficiency, profitability and productivity take priority over the needs of your staff you are bound to increase stress and create resistance to any proposed change. There must be a balance between the two.
Here are thirteen suggestions to help you bring about change without sending your entire staff to a Psychiatrist.
1. Keep your staff informed especially when the change you want to effect is going to impact them personally. Explain the why and the how of your decision to change.
2. Stress how the proposed change will benefit your employees. When people begin to perceive a forthcoming change as a definite benefit to them and when they feel a sense of ownership in the process they more eagerly participate in, welcome and adapt to any changes made. Ownership
and participation are essential. People are motivated by "What's in it for me?"
3. When your staff perceives a specific change as something done to them without consultation and input they build resistance instead of co-operation.
4. Get your people involved in the planning and the implementation of any change.
5. If you do ask for input from your staff make sure you use some of their suggestions. If you ask for input and ignore any suggestions given you will stop the flow of participation dead in its tracks.
6. Provide adequate training and practice in any new procedures. This is required to develop a new comfort level and replace the old. It usually takes about four weeks to develop a new habit so provide adequate training with this in mind. Don't just give a 4 hour seminar on a new procedure or technology and expect everyone attending to be proficient after one or two sessions. Invite them to tell you when they feel comfortable and confident with the new change.
7. Have a mentoring program set up until a new comfort and confidence level is achieved. Training the trainers and having them available and easily accessible is vital. Have your mentors offer tutorials on request.
8. Never assume that you as a CEO or managers have all the wisdom and insight on any issue. Remember that wisdom is cumulative and resides within the collective. When my wisdom and insights are added to those of others we become wisdom and insight rich. This is when great things begin to happen.
9. Never rush into change. Look upon it as a process involving information, discussion and patience. When you give it time you get the results you want plus a strong commitment from your people.
10. Avoid the bandwagon. A lot of workplace change is initiated by a manager or supervisor getting excited about some new program or technology after attending a conference. They return thinking they have found the motherload. Always research any new idea. Test drive it with a few willing volunteers and then make a decision as to whether you want to commit to full implementation based on their response to the test drive.
During a speech on workplace stress to a group of office workers recently I asked what the most stressful part of their job was. The vast majority said supervisors and managers who discover new software to make their jobs easier and just when they are getting used that new technology the same supervisors discover something else to make their jobs easier. It seems to be never ending. They also claimed that in-service on the new software took them away from their jobs and caused them to fall father and farther behind.
11. People are resistant to change and must be shown that any new way of doing things is going to make their lives less stressful and more enjoyable. Never forget that people are motivated by the search for pleasure and the avoidance of pain.
12. Affirm, appreciate and praise your employees frequently especially during the period of change implementation. Appreciation and praise are powerful human motivators.
13. Foster a climate of humor in the workplace. People working in a climate of humor and employment enjoyment are more flexible and open to change.
"The only change people are comfortable with this the change that jingles in their pocket."