Transitioning…..the Process for Change

October 26, 2016 by  

Managing transitions can be very frustrating for leaders because this process is not linear or sequential. Rather transition management requires a multifaceted, simultaneous approach. There is a wide variety of ways that can be implemented to support people throughout the change process.

After identifying some of the pitfalls and challenges of the change process, the question is: What can leaders do to implement changes more successfully? There is no easy answer to that query.

Here are 6 key areas that will help you to deal more effectively with this process.

The list includes the needs that should be addressed by people when going through change.

Leadership
Engagement
• Trust and betrayal
• Coping with Anger
Transition Management
Communication

Leadership
Successful transitions begin and end with effective leaders. Employees need to feel supported, encouraged, and respected by their supervisors. In fact, when exiting employees are asked why they are leaving, most identify the issue as, “not being treated with respect by their manager.”

Leadership is particularly challenging in times of change. If there is an atmosphere of trust, respect, and rapport developed through open, honest, clear communication, and transparent integrity, transitions happen much more smoothly.

Engagement
For a change to be successful, employees need to be fully engaged and involved in the process. That happens only where there are the following pieces in place.

Clarity
The first rule of engagement is clarity. People need clear information about the change. They also need answers to all their questions: who, what, when, where, why, and how? Clarity allays people’s fears and helps them to feel more committed and willing to embrace the change. Ambiguity, withheld information and double speak only fuels fears and rumors which will work against the process.

Competence
Competence is the second rule of engagement. People who are good at what they do, feel more committed to their work. This does not mean that employees do not like to be challenged, because they do! However, if a task is overwhelming, it frightens people and makes them feel less confident. This creates a barrier for people going through transitions because the change may feel overwhelming. Leaders need to support and encourage employees to be able to make “skill links” from the old to the new. Even though employees may be required to try something new and different, they will be more likely to accept this new approach if they are able to use their strengths and skills in the new system or process.

Influence
People want to have influence and feel they have some control over their situation so that they can be engaged in the process. People will be more committed to an idea if they own it. Conversely, no one likes to be forced to comply. Leaders who take this rule seriously ask for employees’ input and look for ways to implement the as many of the suggestions as possible. This will be a win-win.

Appreciation
People want to be appreciated and acknowledged for the good work they are doing. When leaders notice and express their thanks for a job well done, employees feel more committed to their work and their performance and self-confidence will improve. A simple thanks so much for working late last week or coming in early to finish you portion of the project….shows that the supervisor noticed the efforts of the employee.

Trust and Betrayal
There is nothing worse than feeling that you have been betrayed and often when ‘change is in the air’, employees feel they have been let down and betrayed because they were feeling comfortable and confident and now you are taking all that away from them. The way to prevent the feelings of betrayal is to clearly and openly lay out the change vision and let them know exactly how it is going to happen, the sort of support they can expect and that the leadership is more than willing to entertain suggestions, listen to concerns and explain the process fully and in small steps. Once they feel part of the process and understand their role and what they will now be doing, how they will be supported toward that end and what the time frame will be, they will feel much more relaxed and maybe even excited about the new changes.

Coping with Anger
It is only natural that some people will feel angry about the change as once again, they are comfortable with their work, understand what they have to do and now you are telling them that it is going to change. When people are angry they make mistakes, do not listen well and are unhappy and stressed. These feelings can pervade an entire organization and make this process even more difficult to accomplish. Therefore strategies to overcome these sorts of feelings must be offered and expected for some employees. For some, it is the fear of failure or just of the unknown that can make them angry, so the support systems you will put into place need to be explained and put into operation. Just listening to concerns can also allay fears so employing active listening is key to coping with this issue as well.

Transition Management
Creating and implementing a multi-layered plan to achieve the vision for this change is essential to the success of any change. You must get your management team on board first and all must be wholly committed to this change and be able to demonstrate that commit to the rest of the employees. Usually no simple plan works, that is why several stages must be developed with options when some aspects do not occur as expected. This is the key to effecting change so the development and implementation of this plan is key to your success.

Communication
This may actually be the most important part of your plan. Without clear, open, honest, impactful and influential communication being used to articulate your plan as well as excellent active listening skills to hear concerns, suggestions and strategies suggested by others, the change will not occur. Employees need to feel that their ideas are heard, in addition when you actually employ some of them, they will be more likely to buy into the process and the ultimate change because they were part of it. Collaborative approaches are usually much better accepted than changes that are forced upon people. And, because change usually invites rumors, often unfounded, but rumors nonetheless, these need to be addressed and dealt with appropriately so that employees will eventually feel comfortable and able to embrace the change and your process will be successful.

These simple actions can go a long way toward engaging and committing your employees to the change that must occur as it brings them on board with encouragement, feelings of collaboration and a clear understanding of what is happening, how it affects them and how they are going to fit in once the transition has been completed. The atmosphere will be so much more positive and engaged when this approach is embraced by the leadership and experienced by the employees.

Change…..the New Normal

September 23, 2016 by  

In today’s rapidly changing world of technology, worker values, political forces and organization structures, individuals who cannot adapt to change are going to struggle in the workplace. In addition, change is not readily accepted by humans as they prefer the status quo and what they know.
Most people fear change and when that emotion pervades a company culture, performance is lowered, sick days increase, and even turnover can occur. Therefore, in order to reduce those common side effects, a strong change plan must be established and employed because “Change is the event and transition is the process.”

Without a good change plan, with several back up positions when it does not totally unfold as expected, your change event will not occur. So a great multi-layered approach definitely needs to be created and put into operation. In addition, the leadership must be strongly committed to this new vision for the company and be able to demonstrate that commitment to the rest of the organization.
So in your business, what can you do to make sure that when that inevitable changes comes along that you will be able to get your employees on board?

Here are some key issues to consider when you are facing change:
1. The leadership needs a clear vision of how they wish to move forward.
2. Compelling reasons why this change will be beneficial to everyone need to be developed and shared with the organization.
3. A practical means to achieve this vision needs to be planned out, well developed and then implemented. A specific time line should also be established for the outcome.
4. Certain rewards and consequences should be offered to encourage behaviours compatible with the vision and change.
5. Clear lines of communication need to be established so that open, honest, and effective exchanges can occur and employees will feel comfortable to offer feedback. In this way, concerns can be addressed and rumors deflected and explained away….as they will abound. In addition the key issues that need to be addressed are the risks, the benefits, the resources, the reasons. All need to be very definitely explained in ways that are positive.
6. A strong support system must be implemented to allow the employees time, help, and encouragement as they learn what has to be done, how it will happen, and what their new responsibilities may be. The better they understand how it will affect them, and are made to feel confident that they will succeed, the better the chance that this change event will actually happen with most people ultimately onboard with it.

If you are to effect a successful change in your organization you need to fully understand the issues that you will face, the resistance you will find, and the challenges you will encounter in order to make it happen. Be aware of the necessity for patience, active listening, clear communication of your vision, a strong demonstration of the commitment to this change and an understanding that this will not be an easy process.

Finally, if you want employees to celebrate new beginnings, you will need to provide opportunities for them to mourn the past and to let go of familiar ways of doing their work. Even as this change is, hopefully, a gain for your organization, it is also a loss of what is known and comfortable.
People may lose co-workers, work processes they know and understand, familiar ways of doing things, established communication networks, security and stability, or confidence in their own capability. Acknowledge those losses, so that you can assist people to move more quickly with you into the brave new world.