Change is a healthy and necessary part of any company’s growth, but it can sometimes be met with a lot of resistance from the employees. People naturally resist change because of the uncertainty of where it will lead.
And from your team’s perspective, they may fear the impending changes will negatively affect their day-to-day experience at work.
Major changes within a business could include:
- Merging with or acquiring another company
- Changes in upper management
- Changes in physical office location
- Sudden changes in headcount
- Changes in processes, operations, or duties
If not handled carefully, implementing these kinds of changes within a company can cause a significant hit to employee morale and a wave of resignations. Getting your employees to embrace change is not only crucial to the growth of your company, it is also what separates you from the competition in your industry.
Instead of preparing for negative pushback from your team, use the change as a way to strengthen employee engagement with these strategies:
Be Upfront and Transparent
Transparency and communication can increase employee retention by 30% so it is critical to keep your team’s trust intact preceding a major change.
Hold a group meeting and provide an upfront, high-level overview of the impending change. It should cover three points:
What is changing: Tell the group plainly what the coming changes are. It’s important to avoid using any vague or misleading language.
Why the changes are taking place: Explain to your team why the changes are necessary and how it will help the business grow.
When and how the changes will happen: Provide a detailed timeline for your employees of when and how the changes are occurring so they know exactly what to expect.
Open up the floor to questions after your presentation and take your time responding to them. If you don’t have an answer for something right away, make sure you follow up with the answer afterward.
Use the Right Narrative
With the right pitch, change can actually inspire your employees. You need to present the change as something they can get excited about. Don’t just talk about how it will affect the business, but how it will positively affect them.
For example, if the changes involve a shift in employee responsibilities, pitch it to them as an opportunity to expand their skill set and grow as a professional.
It’s also important to help them connect how what they do contributes to the big picture and the company vision.
Inviting feedback demonstrates to your team that you value them. But one of your most powerful tools as a leader is actually listening to your team’s feedback. Yet, it’s not enough to speak to them as a group and then expect your employees to come to you with their thoughts. You need to create multiple opportunities for your employees to share their concerns and ideas.
After the company-wide meeting, schedule one-on-one meetings with each team member over the course of a few days or weeks, (depending on how large your team is). One-on-one meetings create an opportunity for your employees to share their thoughts with you without having to worry about what their colleagues think.
Some employees may still not feel comfortable being totally honest with you up front. It’s helpful to have a way for team members to share their thoughts anonymously. For example, a suggestion box kept in the break room is a great way for employees to convey their concerns without needing to confront you directly.
Act on What You Can
Making your employees feel like they’ve been heard goes a long way in times of change, but taking action on that feedback is even better. You may not be able to fix all of their concerns, but look for opportunities to act on ideas where you can.
For example, if the company is physically changing locations, this will negatively impact some of your employees’ commutes. Negotiating new office hours for these employees could help lessen the impact of such a change.
Or if the changes involve new processes, responsibilities, or technologies that they are not familiar with, ensure they get the training they need before making the switch.
Lead by Example
Being able to clearly instruct your team on what’s happening and why is just the first step as a manager. Next, you need to lead them through the changes by setting an example. Whether the changes are being implemented by you or someone above you, you need to demonstrate that you are 100% on board with them.
Because if you don’t believe in the change, neither will your reports.
Look for opportunities to be a part of what’s happening, and be kind and understanding to employees who are not taking the change as well. That includes taking responsibility for any hiccups that occur during the transition.
Get the Team Involved
Empower your team so that they feel the change is something they are a part of rather than something that’s happening to them. Involvement is the best way to give ownership of the change to your team. It also helps keeps engagement strong and company culture intact. Try to make their involvement something that’s fun or creative.
For example, if your company is merging with another company, you can ask for volunteers to arrange a catered lunch so that the new employees can get to know each other over lunch. Or if you’re moving the team to a brand new office, ask your team for ideas on the decor.
Any major change is bound to come with its challenges. Even if you introduce the change well, there may still be the odd team member who can’t connect with the new direction the company is taking, and that’s to be expected.
But communication, respect, and involvement can facilitate a transition that the majority of your team embraces with enthusiasm. And once you have them on board, they can help you take the business to new heights.