You probably have a morning routine, a nighttime routine, and several mini routines throughout the day. Toss in one little change, such as waking up late or being forced to take a new route to work, and you feel off-kilter.
Is it any wonder, then, that employees thrust into seismic organizational shifts become anxious? Everyone knows that change happens is inevitable, but that doesn’t mean we embrace it wholeheartedly. As an American Psychological Association study discovered, more than half of workers who recently underwent change experienced long-term stress.
Change is natural, and it’s high time we stopped treating it as a taboo topic. Change is an opportunity to learn, and everyone can learn together in a working environment. In fact, change can become a chance for anyone on the corporate ladder to develop new skills — including the CEO.
At my company, we had to look at our organization to determine how to improve efficiency. This involved the entire organization, including people who had not typically been involved in strategic thinking. Was it stressful? Of course. But I became a more energized leader as a result, which I hope is rubbing off on others.
If you want to carry an upcoming change rather than buckle under its weight, move forward with the following actions.
1. Communicate everything with transparency. Why do up to 70% of corporate changes fail, according to McKinsey research? My best guess is that the company leaders had a vision and never shared it fully with their people. This left everyone unable to grasp its importance, leading to a stall right out of the gate.
To avoid an abrupt stop in the action, go overboard with communication in the earliest stages of change. You can never say enough, even if you repeat yourself a dozen times. Talk about how the change will be implemented and what it will honestly mean to your workers and the organization. Be genuine and provide thoughtful answers to questions that arise.
2. Think of change on a continuum. Ironically, many companies stick hard to their first iterations of any change. They forget that change can and should also change!. Instead of carving any changes in stone, write them in pencil. This enables you to make alterations when necessary while still reaching your desired destination.
When you need to pivot, be blunt about the difficulties you face. You don’t have to pretend that change isn’t tough from your end, too. Even if you know a shift is a good thing, you will still experience some growing pains. Encourage everyone to work with you and stay the course along the way.
3. Identify unexpected surprises. When you change one thing, you change everything else, too. And you probably haven’t thought about how some processes or protocols will be affected by the changes you’re making. Commit to staying up to date on what’s happening with your employees. That way, you can quickly amend certain procedures or decisions altered by change.
Remember, change is not a “set it and forget it” scenario — it requires constant supervision. Shifting gears as a team of dozens or hundreds of employees can be downright overwhelming. Despite these challenges, you can embrace ongoing change if you prepare yourself and your team to anticipate the slumps and magnify the swells.