Times move on. Industries change. Companies change. Job roles change. One thing, however, does remain constant and that’s resistance. It’s not enough to trot out the ‘a change is as good as a rest’ proverb, so we asked Chris Mooney, Learning & Development Consultant, to explain how best to tackle change in the workplace – timely advice following Bond Williams’ ‘The Art of Leading Through Change’ event.
The trouble with change in the workplace
Dealing with resistance to change in the workplace can be costly and time-consuming. We all feel and react very differently when faced with change and without addressing this resistance, results take longer to achieve, issues go unaddressed and people get frustrated.
“Change is inevitable, now more than ever,” says Chris. “The world we live and work in is becoming more complex and dynamic. These days, it’s often about doing more with less to get people onboard and keep them engaged. Technology and ideas are evolving fast and the only certainty is that change is here to stay, which produces strong emotion in us.”
The challenge for organisations is how they support people through change. The need to develop and prepare staff can be pressing, yet time and resources always feel limited. To add to this change challenge, we all respond to and feel very differently about it, and we aren’t always upfront either. “We all know people who proudly wear their ‘I love change!’ badge. Then a change comes along and it’s a different story for that very same person,” adds Chris.
Focus on the people
Systems and processes are regularly the primary focus of change initiatives. While the activity usually concerns cost, productivity and efficiency, the people who will be implementing the changes are often an afterthought. This ‘systems first, staff second’ method can confuse and demoralize employees, leaving them in the dark or even feeling devalued. Training and communications should be an integral part of any change strategy from day one.
An example we often see is the provision of ‘stress management training’ after the change or restructure has happened. It’s a poorly-timed gesture very much ‘after the horse has bolted’, highlighting a failure to plan for the human resource effort needed to adapt.
It’s a team effort
The good news is it isn’t rocket science. It’s about knowing ourselves and understanding those around us, using this to adapt and connect to build stronger relationships. By working together, leaders, managers and HR teams can help people to build their resilience, aid wellbeing, support progression and even create change advocates.
This, in turn, creates an environment that encourages people to lead and manage sustainable change. “Get it right and your people will be your biggest change champions. Get it wrong and it not only means unsuccessful or delayed change; the cost to engagement, teamwork and relationships will take a long time to recover from,” adds Chris.
Keep everyone informed
No news is not good news when it comes to change. People talk – it’s only human nature. When we’re not given the information that we need and want, we create it for ourselves – filling in the blanks or listening to Chinese whispers. As a business owner or leader, you need to communicate everything – even when there isn’t anything to communicate.
Chris recommends providing employees with timely information and making sure they are equipped to deal with change: “Keeping in contact with staff ensures there’s no ambiguity, surprises or ill-informed water cooler moments.”
If you’d like to know more about managing change in your workplace, contact Bond Williams today.
Here is a short video of our recent HR seminar with Chris.