Are you gearing up for some organizational change?

Whether it’s a complete restructure, new sales process, revised PTO policy, different employee benefits plan, or simply an office move…to the average employee, it all means the same thing.

Change.

In other words, the way you are doing things today is not the way you will be doing them tomorrow.

Let’s be honest. Change scares some people. Okay, a lot of people. And the longer your processes have been in place, the harder it will be to get the team onboard. Even if you know your plan will make things infinitely better for everyone in the long run, you’ll still run into plenty of folks who just want things to stay the same. “Free espresso all day? Bah! I prefer my daily 9:06 coffee break. Even if I have to walk three blocks and pay five bucks.”

So what should you do if change is in the air at your company?

Create an action plan

Spend some time examining your current structure and what changes will need to be made to support the new model. The more detailed you are in this process, the better. Choose several key people to weigh in to get a full perspective of the needs in various departments and areas.

Create an action plan and select individuals who are both knowledgeable and enthusiastic about overseeing each step of the process, not just for accountability purposes but also to be goodwill ambassadors of sorts. If Grumpy Gary is in charge of training everyone on the new database, it might not go so well. Friendly Fred? Now that’s more like it.

Be prepared

Recognize that people are going to react to change differently. Friendly Fred could surprise you by turning into an Angry Andy. You just never know. Be prepared to encounter any of the following:

  • Change embracers who can’t wait to get started. These dynamos are planning out the details before you’ve even finished explaining the goal.
  • Naysayers who sincerely believe the whole plan is doomed. These guys are already dreading implementation and will do their best to resist.
  • Non-committal fence-sitters who are somewhere in the middle. These folks aren’t sure what to think and could go in either direction.

Talk to your team

Now it’s time to get the word out. Share the details of your plan. Explain the benefits of it and the reasons behind it. Clarify what things will change. Give time frames and set expectations to make things seem less intimidating. Talk about the end goal for when everything is said and done.

After you’ve laid it all out, you’ll be faced with a couple of choices for how to handle the reactions you’ve already anticipated:

  1. Spend your time trying to convert the naysayers and convince the fence-sitters
  2. Spend your time recruiting the change agents and involving them in the process

While attempting to win over the naysayers may seem like a logical plan, trying to convince someone who doesn’t want to change is a good idea can be like trying to explain molecular biology to the average toddler. They just don’t get it. They don’t want to, and they’re not going to try. And all the time you’ve spent trying to convince them that all of this “will be okay” is time that you’re not moving ahead with your new plans.

On the other hand, if you decide to focus your attention on the supporters, you’ll be helping them help you. They can play an active role in the implementation and help with buy-in. You’ll start moving forward immediately, and they’ll be setting an excellent example for the fence-sitters, who are more likely to be influenced by their peers anyway.

Handle the fallout

There will likely be some employee fallout from the change, regardless of how well you manage it. Some people will just refuse to adjust and would rather leave than tough out the process. That’s okay. Let them go. Having people on board who don’t support the company’s goals and vision will eventually bring everybody down.

Have some fun

Once you’ve made it happen, reward your early adaptors, your hardworking implementers, and your former fence-sitters for jumping on board. Review how far you’ve come, and then have a little fun. Why not? You’ve earned it.

 

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