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Managing Change: How to foster positive transitions at work
Sitting on the cusp of Inauguration Day, Americans are paying close attention in order to prepare for what is sure to be sweeping, dynamic change. Whether you’re happy or discontent about the new administration, you know the next four years will be a wild ride.
Change is difficult. As humans, we like what we know. We feel comfortable with the status quo. When what we come to expect shifts, it can be alarming. There’s no better example of this than when change unfolds in the business landscape.
When leadership changes and other major transitions transpire at work, it can make everyone nervous. These are the moments that can make or break a company. With so much on the line, you’d think leaders would be savvy in change management best practices, but studies show they aren’t.
“Organizational Change: Motivation, Communication, and Leadership Effectiveness” by Performance Improvement Quarterly features a study that found approximately 80 percent of respondents feel their leaders never, rarely or only sometimes effectively implement change.
The leaders themselves aren’t any more confident in their abilities to manage change. A 2013 Strategy& survey on culture and change management found major change initiatives by global senior executives are only 54 percent successful.
So how can you beat the odds to better manage change at the organizational level? The following six ideas can boost your success. President-elect Trump should take note.
Communication: Frequent communication before, during and after change implementation is critical to eliminate transition pitfalls. Transparency should be at the heart of all communication strategies. Honesty will build your reputation for integrity, even during rocky times.
Open-door approach: When those who are affected by change feel like they have an outlet in which to voice their concerns, a transition can happen much more seamlessly. Maintain an open-door policy and listen with genuine interest. Accept feedback even from the biggest critics. Engagement is key.
Start at the top: How is change being embraced by the leaders of the organization? During transition periods employees will look to leadership for cues about the future. By embracing change and keeping a positive, enthusiastic attitude, leadership will influence others to do the same.
Cultural assessments: Assess the cultural landscape and address how the change will impact culture, if at all. Cultural dynamics can mean the difference between a smooth transition and one that is utterly dismissed by employees. Be straightforward about any cultural changes that are expected to facilitate change.
Ongoing reviews: When a major change takes place, it’s essential to monitor the positive and negative impacts. Furthermore, this analysis should be ongoing. Looking at progress and remembering that plans evolve will help ensure you make the necessary corrections along the way to reach the ultimate goal.
Expect the unexpected: You can have the most detailed plan about how a major change will unfold, but you will always experience the unexpected. From muddied processes, negative reactions and even resignations, you need to be resilient and adapt as necessary.