Active Voice: 7 steps to Handling Change Without Pain

Initiating change is not about telling people how to transform, but making them part of the dialogue. Be it boss or employee, somebody has to lead the process and create the alchemy. Once everyone is “on board”, change ceases to be something to be feared and becomes something to welcome.  Here are 7 steps to implementing change:

 1. Have a Plan

Change is essential for businesses to grow, expand, and thrive – Diversity and Inclusion is case in point. Planning for change is a key step. A clear business plan or strategy needs to spell out objectives, purpose and a mission for the ensuing change.  Ideally, a change management plan will also clearly articulate the impact on customers, suppliers, stakeholders, and employees.

2. Own the changes

Take responsibility for any change that takes place in the organisation.  Once your organisation has decided to embark on the change journey, it’s best to take ownership of the process and begin implementation.  It’s helpful to carefully plan how to announce the change to employees and how to begin socialising it across the organisation.

3. Explain to employees what is in it for them

Most resistance vanishes when employees understand the benefits change can bring to them as an individual, a team and a department. Furthermore, they are bound to agree with something which will impact their career in a positive and fulfilling manner.  As Diversity and Inclusion changes tend to be welcomed by employees, use momentum to build buy-in for the more difficult behaviour change.

4. Maintain a trustworthy, employee-oriented, conducive work environment

If you are honest, well-liked and trusted by employees, then the resistance towards change may not happen. This is because teams will be more loyal and know that you are always looking out for their welfare. They will be willing to work with you and help you all the way to make this change work.

5. Articulate Challenges

All changes come with risk of the unknown, uncertainty, and other potential challenges. It is important that companies are upfront about the challenges that may be faced. Even if those challenges have not been fully identified and planned for, it is a good move to try and discuss the potential challenges, the range of those challenges, and what the company is doing or will do to address them.

6. Find Key Influencers

Every organisation has key players who have earned the respect of their co-workers, have longevity (and therefore perspective), and are influential. Getting key players on board and letting them act as a sounding board can help senior leaders better understand how change is being perceived, refer recurring issues, and become advocates for the change. Walking these influence-leaders through the change process and getting them on board can help with communication and confidence during the change period.

7. Listen Carefully

People are going to have a lot of questions, ideas, feelings, and emotions. It is important for managers to openly and actively listen to these concerns, validate them, and address them as clearly and frankly as possible. Even if you are unable to address their concerns, it is important to express that the employee concerns have been heard and will be addressed at a later date.

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