Behavioral Responses to Changing Environments
Two weeks ago, our Chief Game Changer, Sarah Blik presented “Behavioral Responses to Changing Environments.” The Know Your Talents team has been adjusting to the new PDP update. As we accommodate to this change ourselves, we are guiding some of our clients through it as well. A change in organizational systems is just one workplace occurrence that can have varied effects on employees. Luckily, we are an office of behavioral experts! Knowing who we are behaviorally can help us to know what factors push us to our limits and can enable us to push back against our stressors.
Change is never easy. There is nothing wrong with change, if it is in the right direction. But, no words can alter the fact that change and disruption are hard on individuals and teams. When faced with an unexpected or unwelcome transition, it’s human nature to immediately descend into fear and doubt. Unless you want your employees to stay stagnant–paralyzed by uncertainty–keep these five change-management tips in mind:
1. Set the Expectation that Change is Inevitable
Think about this…. you can frequently communicate your vision of the company as a dynamic and evolving organization, where progress and change are inevitable. If employees hear this message when they’re first hired, and you reinforce the thought frequently in staff meetings, your mission and vision statements, and other company messaging, you can prevent many of your team members from settling into complacency or assuming they work for a static organization. When a major shift happens, they’re more likely to accept it as a matter of course.
2. Never Package a Negative Change as a Positive One
Keep it real! If you’re making an announcement, and you know your employees will view it negatively, the worst thing you can do is try to convince them that it’s actually a great thing for them. They will be able to see right through it, and they will view you as insincere and condescending, especially if you stand there and repeat reassuring or soothing phrases repeatedly. The third time your employees hear, “It’s going to be okay!” they’ll think, “Oh crud, I better start looking for new work.”
3. Embrace the Change Cycle
When it comes to change management, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, and there’s no predictable timeline for when everyone will be enthusiastically on board. Each person will proceed at his or her own pace through ” the change cycle ,”, expect for some to move through the cycle in a few hours and others to take a month. What you can’t say is, “Okay, we’ll give everyone until Close of Business on Friday to process this, then we’ll hit the ground running Monday morning.” Rely on what you know about each individual member of your team, and after a while, reach out personally to those who seem to be stuck in doubt or discomfort. Most importantly , allow them to voice their concerns, ask their questions, or even make their accusations. Seek first to understand, then to be understood as you try to help them make forward progress through the change cycle.
4. Watch Out for Underminers
If you’re still noticing hotbeds of resistance or negativity, then it’s time for a different kind of conversation. Don’t be afraid to be direct: If you allow destructive attitudes to take root and flourish, you may end up with a small contingent of employees who are determined to make the transition fail. At a certain point, after a reasonable amount of time has passed, each employee has just two options: get on board, or get off at the next exit.
Patience is a Virtue
By the time you’re announcing a drastic new initiative to the company at large, you’ve probably already been thinking about it, working through the details, and processing all the ramifications for a considerable amount of time. Your employees have not yet. Realize that your employees are going to have all the same questions you’ve been working through for months, they’re going to have fears and uncertainties to overcome, and they’re going to experience a temporary drop in productivity. As a leader, your best approach is to create a culture that embraces change. Respect everyone’s right to have their own reactions, communicate the news with authenticity and empathy, and give everyone time to work through the change cycle at an individual pace. Again, think about each employee- who they are, their natural behaviors, and their back-up styles. Be accommodating to keep them motivated, informed, and on the move toward progress!
Don’t forget, we’re getting social- follow us on Facebook , Twitter and LinkedIn. Stay tuned for our next Wednesday Recap and learn more about leveraging behavior with our other blog posts . If you know of an organization or company that may be challenged with communication and could benefit from The Know Your Talents™ Team Impact! Workshop or PDP Professional Certification , please call us at 480-348-8900!