Now that we’ve established how people slowly start to accept change, the next question is: How do we make that process easier? As a leader, there are a few things you can do to nudge the natural process acceptance.
Smooth Transition of Change
1) Identify the potential fears of change
Each action of change carries its individual problems and insecurities. Most leaders tend to focus on the results of change while ignoring the people on the ground who in actuality, influence the execution of that change.
Before implementing any changes, gauge what kind of insecurities it creates. Does it threaten job security? Does it make an employee feel outdated, knowledge-wise? Doing so will allow you to plan out future methods of smoothening the transition of change.
2) Plant the seeds of acceptance
Announcing the occurrence of change to the workforce is extremely important. Packaging the prospect of change will have a big impact on how that change will be perceived and how workers will react to it. For example, during massive lay-offs in a company, you can already identify that job security is a big issue. During this period, package the change by reassuring existing employees that there’s a reason why they are still around.
3) Execute the change as an understanding boss
Acknowledging any insecurities and problems of the change is also vital. By doing so, you let employees know that you aren’t disconnected from them: You feel their plight and understand the uncertainty of the situation. Simply put, it is easier to accept change from someone you trust. The stages of denial, anger and bargaining are eased when employees know that the change is done in their interest too.
4) Decide the magnitude of change
Sweeping reforms or gradual ones? That depends on the situation in the workplace. If the climate in the workplace is one of anxiety, take things slow. Implement changes gradually rather than drop them like a bombshell on your workers. This allows workers to progressively build familiarity with the change at hand.
This is a tougher sell, but you can try to make it a revolution rather than mere change. In the situation where change is eagerly in need, sweeping reforms and changes may actually be the best step. For example, if employees have previously suffered under poor management, you can step in as a new leader and get cracking immediately. In doing so, paint the perception that this is a change that employees are thankful for. Adopt a sociable and caring persona and focus on getting rid of the worst policies first, as well as implementing the most popular ones if possible. The end result is a change that is celebrated, rather than feared.
The key to a smooth transition of change is not being a jerk about it. That sounds pretty harsh, but it’s a harsh reality. If you want change to be executed smoothly by the people on the ground, you have to think like them.