Managing Change in The Workplace & How to Help Employees Accept New Roles

by | Nov 17, 2015

exec_coach_blog_2015_jul_14It’s not uncommon for companies to reorganize roles and responsibilities when implementing new business objectives, or shifting strategic plans. However, reorganization without proper planning and consideration can lead to chaos and discord. Skillfully managing change in the workplace will help make a re-organization more harmonious and organized.

Most companies want to keep employees that have accumulated knowledge and experience, and are willing to train and support employees through their job transitions. Yet many still struggle to embrace their new roles and they may take a change in routine as a personal affront.

A common question asked of me is: “What’s the best way to ease this resistance and help employees to embrace their new roles?”

The secret to a smooth transition really stems from how management introduces change to their employees. Being manipulative or not fully forthcoming generally results in long-lasting resentment and adds to the resistance to change.

In fact, manipulate techniques often backfire, as in this story about “The Devious Butcher” …

One evening, a customer entered the butcher shop looking to buy a chicken. The butcher had one chicken left and proudly put it on the weigh scale.

“That will be $10.35” he said.

“That’s a good price” replied the customer, “but don’t you have one a little larger?”

The butcher thought he’d be cleaver. He pretended to put the chicken back in the fridge and select a new one, but he brought out the same chicken and put it on the scale.

“This one will be $11.40” he said.

And the woman replied, “That’s great! I’ll take both of them.”

You see, had the butcher been more forthcoming, the customer would likely have understood. Likewise, a more transparent process of managing change in the workplace builds trust and takes employees fully into account.

You can’t pull the wool over their eyes and expect a smooth transition. Instead, I suggest you try to understand the unconscious drivers behind resistance to change, so you can modify the potentially negative behaviors and get your employees on-side to embrace their new roles.

A good way to begin is by finding out how your employees feel. Many have invested years to master a job that’s no longer relevant. They consciously know that change is necessary, however they unconsciously they may fear being challenged by their new role, perhaps even appearing to be incompetent.

Keep in mind, it is human nature to want to remove threats and preserve the safety and integrity of one’s self. If your employees feel threatened or are experiencing fear and anxiety, no matter how many times they learn the new job, or are told they must do the new job, their unconscious drivers are sending the opposite signals and interfering with what they consciously know they should do. It’s like having to overcome that little robot in the back of your head that says no to a new way of doing things.

To properly address these deep unconscious drivers, consider helping them paint a positive mental picture.

Encourage your employees to visualize and express what their jobs now look like (the current state which includes their new roles).

If your company has gone through a considerable amount of change, and some of your employees are not adapting well to it, perhaps a transitional workshop would benefit your undertaking.

“How to Create a Mental Picture of My New Job and What Change Has Meant to Me.” is a productive and easy way to get started, especially with those employees most at risk.

The workshop will help your employees to picture their new roles and identify the differences, so your management team can effectively help them overcome their challenges and bridge the gaps they are experiencing.

By identifying the challenges, you’ll be able to implement effective solutions. It’s called team-work!

To effectively neutralize the unconsciously perceptions, employees needs to replace the threat with a solvable challenge. However, this change must be present in the neural patterns they have about the new role – and not just at the verbal, conscious level. By adopting a transparent, open and educational approach around managing change in the workplace, you will find employees more forthcoming, positive and willing to adapt to the change being asked for.

Our workshops accomplish this – without manipulation. We clarify the challenge, engage employees to speak about it and this creates new neural patterns for resolving the challenge. Best of all, it is completely transparent and only works with a complete awareness of how and why it’s working.

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