How You Socialize Change Determines Its Success
stevehaft | Change Management| By
Change is a ubiquitous occurrence that isn’t always welcomed. The common question is: why do we need to change? The assumption here is that everything worked just fine before. Often times, we see the employee body as entitled and disgruntled when they are resistant to change.
We privately think “suck it up” you are lucky you still have a job. I’m not so sure this is the right attitude. True enough, you cannot expect to have complete concurrence for every decision you make. Sometimes you just have to make a decision and pick up the pieces after.
However, what if we owe our employees something more during the change management process? Perhaps, they feel ostracized or distant from the process. As leaders, isn’t our job to not only manage the change, but to properly socialize it?
Here is the point where I believe we not only undermine the change management process, but we fail our employees. In order to have any measure of success in changing a process, policy or practice, you must consider its impact. Additionally,when the impact has been assessed-the overall change has to be communicated and socialized. When we take the attitude that our employees should accept change however rapid or difficult, we lose their attention, we lose their capacity to adapt and most importantly we lose their trust.
Where change is involved, the assumption is usually that management has made an intentional decision to disturb the peace. It is also assumed that the change is being implemented as a means to spite the employees. Call assumptions what you will, they are as good as any truth and employees believe them with all of their being. This is the sort of thing that we have to get ahead of. Assumptions about change hold less clout and we gain champions in our employees when they are part of the process.
How do you make your employees part of the process?
You make them part of the process by having a communication plan for the element that is changing. Use that plan to give them opportunities to not only see the change in a positive light, but to poke holes in it as well. Employees need to see it, feel it, touch it, and process it before it’s rolled out. Change without warning feels like an organizational ambush. It’s not only rude to blindside your employees with change, but it is certain that the actual change will be poorly adopted and unappreciated.
If adoption, acceptance, and successful implementation of the change are the goal, you would be wise to do the following:
- Have a thorough blueprint for how the plan will be executed.
- Communicate the change regularly and early in the change process.
- Give opportunities for your employees to better understand the impact of the change.
- If it is a systematic change, provide opportunities for groups to get a feel for the different way of doing things.
- Where possible, allow for suggestions and/or input- especially if the change impacts how work gets done.