You’ve probably heard it a thousand times before: the only true constant in life is change. The only reason the adage has become such a platitude is because it’s so true. In fact, it has never been truer than it is today. As business and economic conditions shift and new technologies make old ones obsolete, change is transforming workplaces faster than ever before.
Your company’s ability to not only accept and adapt to change, but also to embrace it and find the opportunities that may accompany change will be an important determining factor for your future success. The most successful companies will be the ones with a culture that is open to change and that embraces its challenges with ideas to improve workplace environment.
A positive approach to change management begins at the senior levels of management, but it must be a spirit that is adopted by all employees. A certain level of anxiety in the face of significant change can be a natural reaction for many people, so the challenge is how can we help members of the staff to overcome their fears and apprehension so that they can become champions for change.
Observe and Listen
Looming changes in procedures or structural changes can be unsettling for employees. A mounting sense of anxiety can be disruptive within the work environment, especially if comfortable routines may be threatened. It’s important therefore to pay close attention to what’s going on. Watch for shifts in attitudes and behaviors and listen to what they are saying so that you can take steps to address any anxiety they may be feeling. Of course, another great way to take your employees’ pulse when it comes to possible future changes is through an employee engagement survey.
Demonstrate Clarity and Compassionate Concern
To employees experiencing anxiety, it’s important that their concerns are heard and considered. There’s nothing that can make someone feel more undervalued than to have their concerns shrugged off by a cavalier “don’t worry about it.” Clearly, if they are worried about it, it’s probably affecting their performance, attitude and job satisfaction.
Employees turn to their managers for guidance and clarity on matters like these. Begin by being transparent and honest and by keeping the lines of communication open. Be as clear as you can be about the issues and concerns surrounding change. Be sure that your teams understand why the change is happening, what it means to your company and its clients.
When there’s as much clarity as possible around the who, what, when, why and how questions surrounding change, your staff can begin to form a plan of how they will address possible scenarios. Risks factors can be anticipated and action plans can begin to take shape. This serves to eliminate any guesswork and incorrect assumptions that may be fueling anxiety.
Embrace Open Collaboration and Encourage Strategic Thought
Collaborate with your employees on solutions for dealing with change. It’s an opportunity to learn from them about the impacts that change may have and for them to get greater insight into what the change will mean. By engaging staff at this level, you will help them be empowered in the face of their changing environment, and who knows, perhaps they will uncover hidden opportunities that will benefit everyone. It’s a great way to help them shift from being fearful of change to becoming excited by it.
When members of your organization at all levels are encouraged to approach change with a critical and strategic mind, you’ll be in a far better position to anticipate the unexpected, find new ideas to improve workplace environment, and develop a staff that is fully engaged and passionate about their work.
For more ways to transform an apprehensive and anxious staff into fully engaged employees, check out our Ultimate Guide to Improving Employee Engagement.