Why do we go through Organizational Change? It’s usually to create more positive outcomes for the organization. So why is it so difficult to create positive change in the workplace? And are there things managers can do to ensure successful change?
There’s no doubt that managing change is difficult, but it doesn’t have to be painful. In fact, with the right approach, you can create a more positive experience. Granted, the outcome may not make everyone happy. Sometimes change results in job losses and cutbacks. But you can minimize some of the impact through specific actions.
What specific actions can a leader take to create positive change in the workplace?
Change Leadership is much more than just putting on a smile and giving people pep talks. In fact, putting on this overly positive act could be offensive to those that are having difficulty with change. So we need to start with values. For some leaders, these values are already just part of who they are. For others, these values must be developed over considerable time.
Start with a mindset of win-win
We often get caught up in all the negative aspects. And if that’s what you focus on, that’s all you see. So if you open your mind to looking for win-win solutions, you may see opportunities to create the change you need while also looking after people. Right from the beginning, communicate that you will ensure the needs of others are considered and respected as you move towards your goal.
Be open and honest in communication
Communication is always important, but especially so during change. We sometimes think we are protecting people by not telling them things such as their jobs will change, or they may need to relocate, etc. But what we truly fear is coming off as “the bad guy.” Get over it! And you will need to incorporate a wide range of communication. Learn more in our article on tips for communicating during change.
Whenever possible, allow people to have input
One of the biggest challenges for people is feeling that they have no control over what happens to them. So allowing people to have input helps them feel that they have some control, thus reducing their anxiety. And if you can’t allow input (after all, you do need to respect the direction of your own supervisor and executive, you can at least listen to their needs. Let them feel heard and understood. Employee engagement is a critical step in creating positive change.
Be open to alternative solutions
We can get so caught up in implementing change, that we fail to see new opportunities. Maybe we are striving to meet deadlines, and focused on following the plan. But consider that others may be able to see a different way of achieving the goal. With alternative, we may be able to minimizing harm and disruption to others. Don’t be so set on your process that you refuse to consider a different course.
It can be difficult and uncomfortable to listen to others frustrations (or even your own!), but it is important to recognize that change can be an emotional time. Find ways for people to express themselves in a healthy and respectful manner. If we don’t allow the emotions, they can come out in other more damaging ways. Resentment may build, and people may react in ways that seem irrational.
Effective change requires a leader to demonstrate a positive attitude and constantly communicate positive expectations to employees and stakeholders. But perhaps most significantly, it requires commitment and courage to face the emotional ups and downs – including our own.
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