Change is always difficult; people are by nature creatures of habit. If you are in a leadership position and it’s up to you to communicate the executive management vision during a shift in your company’s plans, here are 3 steps that can help you manage change with minimum friction.
People tend to be skeptical of upper management when it comes to big changes. Remember though, your executive staff has the big picture, and what doesn’t make sense at the lower levels is simply a lack of this wider perspective. You can make up for this by communicating regularly with your workers about the values and mission of the company and how that applies to these new changes. The message must be clear and consistent; this is one of your best leadership opportunities to steer a new course. When employees understand the underlying reasons and purpose for change, they will be willing to accept the momentary inconveniences.
What you need to explain must be done right at the start of the change; don’t wait for trouble and then try to react to it. You need to have the courage to reveal information that may ruffle some feathers, because this will build trust and respect in your leadership. If you don’t want nay-sayers and negative attitudes, which are contagious, to spread through the ranks, you need to get all your employees to accept the new direction at the outset. Do whatever it takes to be sure the message is thoroughly communicated and understood, or you will be redirecting a lot of your resources during the change process to quelling mini-rebellions and it will take you longer to get where you want to go. An email memo won’t do the job; depending on the size of your company, you should consider table-top discussions and workshops to give everyone a chance to voice their opinions, be heard, receive feedback, and have the changes explained so that the reasons behind them are fully understood.
If your mission statement is just a plaque on a wall, your company will lack cohesion and focus. Values are not just sales gimmicks; they are the foundation of a well-run organization. Your company’s values not only should be well-known to your employees, but mentioned often and most importantly, put into practice regularly by your managers. Team members must see values in action, or they will drift away from these norms and work according to their own ideas and standards, and unity will be lost. Some of the great ways you can emphasize values are:
Just a few straightforward actions can make change management less of a hurdle, and save you a lot of strife and confusion.