Some managers are afraid of change because they worry about how their employees will react to new processes and different procedures—and for good reason. According to the American Psychological Association, employees reported lower levels of job satisfaction when they recently experienced organizational changes within the past year than those who did not: 71 percent compared to 81 percent.
Bottom line: Lower employee satisfaction leads to lower employee productivity, which leaves managers wary of change.
Change is good, embrace it!
However, it is possible to encourage employees to embrace change, or to enact change even if you aren’t in a leadership position. Change can be viewed as a good thing in your company, you just need to know how to sell it and get your team on board. Here are a few tips to help effect change and encourage your team to embrace it.
Start with a vision for the future
A desire to enact change is not enough to actually make a difference. Change takes work, time, and careful planning. The better prepared you are, the more concerns you can address quickly and easily.
“During times of uncertainty, people experiencing change want a clear view of the path ahead,” Morgan Galbraith, employee engagement and change management manager at Weber Shandwick, writes at Harvard Business Review.
Galbraith highlights the importance of having a clear plan (with the who, where, what, and when figured out). Furthermore, she also emphasizes the importance of highlighting the why, or the big picture for change. This is the storytelling aspect of your plan. Explain how your company can benefit from these changes, whether you’re looking to overhaul a company policy to better align with the organization’s core values or just want to adjust a process to optimize workflow.
It will be harder to lobby people to your cause if you don’t have the details or the passion to win your peers and managers over. So always start with your vision first and foremost.
Build up your support system
You can make all the changes you want as an individual, but organizational change requires buy-in.
In an article for the Society for Human Resource Management, Martin Yate encourages lower-level team members to build a network of allies, or team members who are eager to help you. You can do this by jumping in to help others (when your work allows it) or praising and acknowledging good work when you see it.
These allies, in this case, your change champions, will help you when you’re ready to enact change because they want to support you and believe in your vision and leadership. This is helpful when dealing with team members who are resistant to change. Your allies can personally work with their co-workers to alleviate concerns and do the storytelling for you.
While one person can enact change for the better, it helps to have a team of supporters behind you.
Embrace a culture of change
The fact is, some companies are naturally more resilient to change than others. Change is like a muscle, if you use it regularly, it gets stronger and challenges get easier. However, if you (or your organization) avoid change and never use that muscle, it atrophies.
“Resilient organizations are like putty: stretched, pulled and twisted, yet still hold their shape,” Dr. Natalie Baumgartner, chief workforce scientist at Achievers, writes. “The main way they achieve that sort of resiliency is through engaged and aligned employees.”
If you are in a leadership role, make change a tenant of your organization. Even at a lower-management level, you can empower your team to embrace change. Start by introducing small changes where there are lower risks involved. Also, create safety nets for these changes for team members to fall back on where possible.
As your employees see that change can be a good thing, (building up their resiliency muscles) you can move toward bigger challenges and products to move your company forward.
Report on your successes
If you want to prove that embracing change is a good thing, make your successes known. Provide 30- and 90-day updates for how your changes have improved the company. Include these results in company newsletters and town-hall meetings, preferably quantifiable so leaders and higher-ups can see the direct results.
You can even reward your team members for their hard work in adopting the new processes. Make sure everyone knows what a success the plan was and remind them how good it feels to work as a team to make it happen.
These celebrations aren’t just for your own ego or to thrust your name in the spotlight. You’re building evidence that change is a good thing and that, though it may be challenging, the right plans will always pay off. The next time you have a big idea and want to lobby for support and get your team members to change, you can turn to past victories as proof of success for the next big thing.
Create a strategy for change
If it’s time to bring change to your organization, approach the decision with a clear strategy. Develop a plan to move the company forward and look for people to serve as your champions.
If your team can trust you that this change is for the better, they’ll feel less stressed about taking the plunge into something new.