We have all heard the saying that change is good. We have all lived the experience that change is hard. We have all known someone that doesn’t deal well with change. Heck, we may even be that person. Change can happen at home, at work or even just in your community. Regardless, everywhere you look, change is around the corner and it is coming at you faster than you may have ever dreamed. Learning tools for managing change in the workplace can help you navigate those changes and keep your team and your company afloat, no matter what direction you suddenly find yourself pointed in.
Managing change in the workplace is an especially important skill to practice, because, as a member of the workforce, keeping your job is essential to maintaining your way of life. Our economy is such that many businesses are forced to undergo restructuring and layoffs. The employees that find themselves still onboard after a corporate “rightsizing” find themselves struggling to figure out how to do more with fewer people. Ushering your company into these new incarnations in and of itself is key to sustaining viability, and helping your team to navigate the change is the best way of doing this.
The first thing to realize when you are learning about managing change in the workplace is that change is scary. Employees will feel threatened and afraid of having old familiar things ripped away and having new and unknown people, ideas and tasks thrust at them. For many, there is an actual grieving process that accompanies major change at work. It is vital to allow your team to experience and work through that grief. Just as they would when a loved one passes, many of your team members may initially be in shock and then denial. The denial will eventually turn to bargaining, followed by guilt, especially if there were coworkers laid off. Anger and even depression are possible, followed finally by acceptance.
The big difference between helping someone grieve and managing change in the workplace is that in the workplace, business must continue to go on. The best way to make sure that this happens is to recognize where your team is in the process, and help lead them to acceptance. Allow them to express their concerns and dismay and make sure that you keep communications with them as open as you can throughout the process in order to engender and keep their trust and respect.