Our Iceberg is Melting…Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditions ‘The Employee Factor’

In her continuing series on the impact of change during Growth, Senior Strategic Partner, Laura Dillingham discusses the concept of how change during growth impacts your most valuable asset… your employees. Read On!

With any growth comes change and for organizations that may be one of the most important processes they’ll ever go through. How do you know if your organization is ready for change? Organizations tend to focus on resources such as locations, buildings, technology, management, supplies and communicating with stockholders, suppliers and customers just to name a few. However, there is one resource that many times gets undervalued or even overlooked and this resource many times is one of the key factors to an organization’s successful change and growth.

Let’s start by looking at one of the most important resources for any organization, its employees. When we decide to grow and change we first need to look at three groups of employees. They are employees who are:
* Ready for change
* On the fence or not sure
* Screaming and kicking
Since dealing with an employee who is ready for change or may be on the fence or is not sure many times doesn’t present immediate problems or issues, let’s look at the last group of employees, those who are not going without a fight. Those who make the most noise and/or create unlimited obstacles.

Why would employees be resistant to change? There are a multitude of reasons for resistance such as:
1. Feeling a loss of control, especially over the events going on around them.
2. Experiencing uncertainty, especially if they are not getting information or enough information.
3. Don’t like to be surprised.
4. Uncomfortable with things being different.
5. Fear losing face or looking bad in front of others for the way certain things were done in the past that now need to be changed.
6. Concerned about future competence.
7. Fear of disruptions or ripple effects.
8. Concerned that they may have to do more work.
9. May be holding on to past resentments.
10. There may be a real threat that some people may benefit from the change while others may not…at least initially.

How can organizations and more specifically leadership help their teams with growth and change?
1. To overcome a loss of control it is important to help employees feel in control of the events around them. To do this, allow employees to participate in the planning of change and leave choices for them to make within the overall decision to change.
2. To reduce employees sense of uncertainty, share information with them so that they know exactly what is happening at every step of the change process.
3. To overcome surprise, give employees advanced warning about changes so that they will have time to mentally prepare for them.
4. In order to help employees with things being different so they can commit to the change, you can maintain some of their familiar routines and surroundings.
5. To help employees from losing face or looking bad in front of others, do not place blame on them for the way things used to be done. Instead, honor their accomplishments for what they did under the old condition.
6. To overcome employee’s concerns about their future competence, make sure employees feel competent about the new change by providing them with sufficient education and training. Further, you should ensure employees don’t feel negatively judged while they are becoming comfortable with new routines and processes.
7. As their supervisor, it is important that you are sensitive to the disruptions that change causes in your employees’ professional and personal lives.
8. To overcome the fear of having more work, help employees find or feel compensated for the extra time and energy that change requires.
9. To overcome the fact that employees are holding on to past resentments, make time to listen to any past resentments your employees have and repair any past rifts.
10. The final reason employees resist change is because oftentimes it does present a real threat since some people will benefit from the change while others may not—at least initially. To help employees overcome this type of resistance, avoid creating obvious “losers” from the change.

Not all employees are resistant when growth and ultimately change occur, but the organization and specifically leadership needs to be prepared to work with all three groups. There is no substitute for exceptional Planning, Leading, Organizing and Communicating (PLOC). Leadership that works with employees using these four skills will continue to help their organizations achieve their goals and objectives and ultimately the overall mission and vision.