Change is inevitable, especially in the work environment. It can occur as a result of internal and external influences such as technology advances in the market, the addition or elimination of a product line, or adapting to the current economic climate. It’s the job of the manager to help ensure changes are communicated and implemented successfully.
Effective managers are attuned and sensitive to stakeholder needs, track the critical political issues, and are adept at managing the resistance to change efforts. These managers rarely make a misstep as they maneuver through complex political situations. They know how get complicated things done smoothly. With a little effort on your part, you can make sure your employees not only ease into change, but also learn to adapt to it.
The first step in managing change is to be sure that people understand what you are trying to accomplish. You have to communicate to your employees why the old way is no longer sustainable and explain how these changes will make the company stronger and more efficient.
Next, others need to know how they can contribute to achieving this change and what is expected of them.
Here are some other ways to involve your direct reports:
Whenever you have a new initiative, try the following exercise: Anticipate who might be supportive of your initiative and who might oppose it or attempt to sabotage it. Think about why these people are likely to act as you anticipate. Then watch the situation play out, and see how accurate you were. If you weren’t very close, analyze what factors became important that you misunderstood or underestimated.
To confirm that your message was clearly stated, ask your listeners to summarize what you have just said. Take this opportunity to clear up any misunderstandings; make note of what they were and how you can prevent similar misunderstandings in the future.
Focus attention on the areas where you’ll get the most leverage. Too many changes may make the work environment unstable, and people may find it difficult to focus because they’re trying to do too many new things.
Discuss the organization’s goals and action plans with your team members to ensure that the plans are feasible. Listen carefully to their objections and make modifications where possible.
Show your enthusiasm as you talk about the team’s goals and vision, and indicate how pleased you are that people are willing to pitch in and work together. Your personal commitment to the team will inspire others to strengthen their commitment.
Evaluate the effectiveness of your projects from time to time to ensure that your changes have improved the quality of services your organization provides. If they do not, you may need to modify or change your goals.
Remember to always be flexible and prepared to change your action plans if internal or external factors alter the organization’s strategic direction.
If you work hard to smooth these transitions, a change may actually do you and the company “good.”