Don't Miss The Signs As People Learn To Adapt To Change
Why it’s important to identify where people’s emotions are as they learn to adapt to change...
During these unsettling and uncertain times, adapting and changing a business is a steep learning for many and challenging for all and a real test on business continuity. When you plan to implement change in any business, I know how tough going it can be at times, but adapting your business and fundamentally changing it without any plans, little to no expert resources, notice or requirement to do so, is a huge ask for any business and then on top, to do this at speed; this is unprecedented in my life time, perhaps time for the survival of the fittest and smartest and to prepare yourselves and your business to manage and support people, at they react to change in different ways.
How to avoid another set of problems and challenges?
When I’m working with businesses and supporting them to introduce their people and workplace changes and transformations, I see all sorts of reactions from people, from those directly affected by the proposals of change and people who aren't; my point is, don’t overlook those that aren’t, ensure your comm’s reaches out and informs them too, as well as anyone who may be on leave right now (generally long-term), it’s really important to make everyone feel part of your changes, and don’t leave anyone on the side-lines; I know this can happen and I’m certain that it’s the reason why a whole set of different problems and challenges occur and right now, I’m guessing that no business has capacity nor appetite to deal with new or additional issues.
You may have experienced going through some form of change yourself, there’s been so many restructures, transfers of employment, transformations, mergers and acquisitions, particularly since the early, mid 2000’s that there is a good chance you have, so you may already recognise that people can react to change in different ways and I’ve certainly experienced this first-hand.
You may resonate with some of the 5 types of reactions I’m about to share…
- Avoidance of change: Divorce themselves from those involved in change and ignore what is happening, and often won’t have a view at meetings or offer any input to the proposed changes. This reaction requires swift inclusivity. I often find that a good way to encourage people to feel ok about change, rather than avoidance, is to nominate them into a ‘working group’. The group is made up of people who help to communicate your changes, help to allay any fears, seek feedback and come up with change ideas to help find the right solutions
- Resistance to change: There’s lack of engagement with those who are part of the changes and offer little or no input. My caution here is, if you spot this type of reaction, it can swiftly lead to low morale, poor productivity and even absence from the workplace, as the reaction from some people morphs into emotional stress and anxiety, so some empathy and inclusion is key to help encourage positivity and engagement
- Maintaining old habits: It’s easier to keep doing what you like, know and feel comfortable and confident with. I’ve seen habits easily formed, but they’ve appeared hard to give up and in my experience this can be one of the toughest to nurture through the changes, because old habits are like ‘comfort blankets’ and replacing these can often upset levels of confidence, and result in behaviours that resist new ways of doing things and lead to influencing others to behave in this way. This can often mean that getting buy-in and acceptance of change is much harder to achieve and tends to happen over a longer period
- Behaviours in the workplace: Can manifest as passive and unsupportive, potentially negative and disruptive and similar in many ways to the symptoms of ‘maintaining old habits’. So, my steer is to target these behaviours and get buy-in as swiftly as possible. I’ve done this through encouraging people to accept the role of champion, lead and other titles, this gives them a sense ownership and responsibility of the changes, which encourages new behaviours and generally results in getting a positive outcome
- Culture: Holding on tight to the past; well, it’s the easier of the two, stick with what you know or what you don’t? This is why putting any changes in place needs to be introduced with a certain amount of empathy. Culture is driven by the personalities within your business and the behaviours that are used and shared with others. People who feel the need to hold onto the past, will definitely benefit from your open and honest communication strategy, so try to introduce ways to gain their confidence and trust, if you can nail this, the whole change experience will feel a whole lot easier for everyone, reduce unnecessary risks and look after people's health and wellbeing
Start to prep and plan your people and workplace changes!
Keep communications flowing and find ways to reach out to everyone, internally and externally. Be prepared for people to react to change in different ways and formulate detailed plans, with the aim to manage these reactions at pace.
It’s important to identify where people are emotionally within the change curve, not everyone is at the same place at the same time, and your plans should account for this.
There are many ways you can adopt and work smarter, get in touch if you would like to chat through how we can help with adapting your business, and connect you with the right people and workplace solutions and save on your resource, time and money at: firstname.lastname@example.org
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