The announcement came, “We are going to so some organizational restructuring. With a new Executive Director in place, the Board of Directors and Executive Team feel that it is a timely decision for some operational change.”
From the mutterings of “here we go again”, to the moans and groans of concern, to the excitement of future possibilities, the response is mixed.
People begin to wonder….
What is behind all of this; is there something more to the story?
Is this another ‘flavour-of-the- month-type’ of change?
What’s going to happen to my job?
Will I have to change?
Is this going to create a whole lot of extra work?
Is the organization in trouble?
How will our customers be affected?
Brent Gleeson, a contributor to Forbes magazine, in his article, Organizational Change Can Really Hurt: 3 Ways To Manage Fear and Stay Energized, wrote, “It’s difficult for managers and staff to get motivated when they believe that the latest “new initiative” being preached form above is going to die, just the last one – no matter what they do. Fear makes change intensely personal. People become concerned about their jobs, families, and long-term career path. It’s much harder for them to absorb important information when panic starts to set in. This can be a big distraction that undermines the team’s ability to focus and stay productive.”
How to we alleviate fears and motivate people to embrace change?
Over the years, I have worked with many organizations going through change or transformation. I have heard many opinions and ideas from all levels of staff, on how to keep change positive. I want to share some of those with you.
Setting Goals and Staying Focused
You’ve heard it before, “if you fail to plan, plan to fail”.
Presenting the goals and outcomes, right from the beginning, shows people where you are headed. Finding ways to break down the goals into early wins and successes will help to stay on track and focused. Being upfront with how this will affect the future, is a critical piece to achieve buy-in. While change will occur, demonstrating the outcomes and new possibilities is a way to generate excitement and motivation to travel the journey.
There isn’t a place I have gone, where communication isn’t emphasized as important. When going through organizational change, communication becomes a critical tool that can make it or break it.
Effective communication means telling the story of change, from beginning to end. While it may seem arduous to constantly talk about the change, the resulting motivation and buy-in is well worth the effort.
The story of change can be told through formal meetings, a weekly newsletter, a morning email, opportunities for staff to share their experience and continually talking about the journey.
Create an Idea Centre
Sometimes called, innovation labs, an Idea Centre is simply what it states, a place to share and develop ideas. Creating time or a physical location, where people can jot down ideas for consideration, helps to keep staff engaged and excited.
Invest in Staff Coaching and Development of Emotional Intelligence
Change will bring openings and opportunities. Just because the change is good, it doesn’t mean that everyone is ready for it or that they know how to deal with it.
Investing in staff coaching and development of emotional intelligence, as part of the transformational budget, will enhance long-term results.
Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, states that, “Emotional intelligence is the “something” in each of us that is a bit intangible. It affects how we manage behavior, navigate social complexities, and make personal decisions that achieve positive results.”
Self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management are all key contributors in successfully responding to change. If people are not equipped with the emotional intelligence to cope with change, the time, goals and money that have been invested into the change, may be at risk.