Change Management – How to do this seamlessly

Changing the mindsets and behaviours of your people – how to do this seamlessly

In an ever changing world your business will need to adapt to change and with this your people will need to adapt too, your success lies with within the change programme and how open to change your people are – what you do is crucial to the success of the programme, below are some steps can you take to enthuse your people.

In business we often apportion the blame onto our people when change goes awry, however the success lies in the planning and execution of the programme itself and your people are a key ingredient to its overall success, for starters leading and implementing change is not easy; it requires excellent people skills, this includes exceptional listening, negotiation, communication and listening skills (yes I did repeat the word listening), listening to your people is really important, I do not just mean what you can hear I mean sometimes what you cannot hear, this may be consultations, gossip, rumours, surveys, reviews, one-one meetings training sessions in fact in any format you can then act upon it, do this by communicating and negotiating, you will either then get great buy in and epic fall out from your people.


So why do people resist change, and what can you do to combat it:

Loss of job – your people may feel their job is at risk, hours are to be reduced, this causes them distress and worry, as the change programme is announced and or managed, you may see reactions to change and a fall out from your people, change as we know is a natural reaction in business, processes and tech changes, advances afoot which may mean working smarter. The overall aim to create efficiencies, reduce costs and enhance productivity.


Poor Communication Strategy – it is imperative the change programme and continuous communication is delivered in a way that your people will understand. This needs to be:

The what – why – how – when and who and importantly the outcome, success will look like and how it will be measured. At this stage you will see fallout and resistance no doubt, it is how you deal with it that matters, obviously you have bought into the programme, but by listening to your people you can then and only then understand their views, asking for their buy in is great but then not actually doing anything about it is setting yourself up for more failure.


You will have people who have done the same job for 5, 10, 20 years; they will have seen the same plans before from others or are just not buying into the programme, by allowing an open communication process and gaining real buy in you will have a better chance, constant communication is also crucial, if you stop it will start to slip, never let go, your door should always be open, be seen and be noticed.


Do not allow for any miscommunication and squash any if it starts, gossip, bad mouthing and rumours will set in the rot so do some weeding on a daily basis.


Shock and Fear of the Unknown – your people’s reactions can change from fear, panic, anger, elation, happiness, and enthusiasm, it can swing from each side. This is quite natural; you need to allow as part of your programme your people’s emotions and feelings. Change is at times difficult to cope with as some of your people may want to stay in a role that was stable, easier and predictable. They may try to hide under the radar, this may only make them more fearful in addition constantly running away making excuses.


When leading change, planning for the future is key it assists in keeping your people informed ahead of any key changes, by doing this you can minimise disruption and manage in bitesize chunks.


Loss of Control – this really is one of the key factors for your people, they feel the loss, routines within their place of work are important, as workers there is an expectation to be organised, this feeling of loss, creates the loss of control over their environment and workplace in general, they feel they are lacking in control over how they work, operate and communicate. This can make your people feel less in control, confused and devalued.


Ways in which you can counteract these feelings are within communication as discussed, by empowering them, you can do this by enlisting their support, this maybe a part in the programme itself.


You need to provide them with regular feedback on their contributions and seek their feedback.


Lack of Competence – your people may be complacent within their role, they may need some development, they will be fearful of this. It will not possibly an area they will want to discuss with you in fact they will possibly be resistant to the change. It may be they are just resistant or perhaps never had the opportunity. They maybe the person within your business who says “we have been doing it like that for years, there is nothing wrong with the way we do it”, “I know how to do everything, I doubt there is anything anyone can teach me”, “a course, why would I need to go on that, I know my job anyway”. When this happens, you need to act quickly, for 2 reasons as we know you may have in your camp your “cant” and “wont” people:


1 – if it is a skill gap you can plan the training


2 – if it is resistance you need to change the mindset or be proactive in your people management approach.


The 2nd group will significantly impede your change programme strategy so it is imperative you nip this in the bud where they are causing you headaches, HR will be your best option.


Poor Timing – when you are planning any change it is important where possible to plan the programme, for example a florist would not plan a change programme in the run up to Valentines day. By understanding your business and the ebbs and flows only you are best placed to judge this, it is also wise to spend time with your people to gauge their reaction where you can prior to any changes, this could provide you with an insight into the best timeframe. You may decide to hire a professional to assist with the programme, this does not just provide support with the timing but assists with all aspects, you could hand over the entire programme to a consultant and in many instances, this works exceptionally well.


Need for Reward – rather a touchy subject as I know that as business owners reward would not be what you may have considered, your people however value this as part of change, they see what is in it for them as a big reward. Thinking outside the box here where budgets are tight, we associate rewards are financial gain, but they need not be at all, rewards can be non-financial too.


Some examples of the most current and popular rewards your people will thank you for are:

Flexible Working  – Dependants Leave –  Working from Home

Pensions –  Holiday Leave –  Birthdays off

Free Fruit – Refreshments  – Relaxed Dress Codes


Change of Support System – your people may become worried as they will have built relationships with their teams and managers, the changes being proposed may mean a shake up in the operational structure. This can leave them feeling isolated and fearful.


Ideas to alleviate these fears are new team building meetings, orientation programmes, setting up workspaces, buddy programmes, team training events and objective setting with Line Managers.


Past Experiences – it may be in the past change programmes have been introduced that have not worked or people have had poor experiences, as individuals we all do deal with change in our personal lives, this has a bearing on how some people react in the workplace, especially in a persons younger years, it is also more problematic for people in their younger years who have lived in the same house, we tend to inherit some traits and these continue into adulthood. When we think of this, we can then understand how this may then impact your people.


Trust and Support – in order for your programme to be successful you need to create a climate of trust and one which is supportive, this involves the behaviours, intentions and faith of everyone; by adopting this approach you will be creating one of dignity and respect, your overall aim will be that you will have less resistance to the change.


Where you are viewed or perceived as mistrusted, your credibility is lost, this can have a detrimental impact on the change programme where you do not act upon it, by using an external body can sometimes be useful as they can take an impartial view in change management programmes. It is also worth noting that your integrity as an employer in any change programme is of paramount importance and your people can leave devastating consequences for your reputation.


I have worked on many Change Management Programmes both as an Employer and a Consultant, I have experience which is “hands on” and not theory based, I can assist clients based on their individual needs. I deliver Change Management Workshops upon request at your workplace.


Written By:

Fran Crossland

Director (HR Consultant)

HR and you Ltd

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