As one expert on supervision has put it: “No one likes changes except a wet baby.” Like it or not, though, your people must be able to adapt to new circumstances. Economic pressures and technological advances constantly compel organizations to change. Here are some tips to help you make it easier for your employees to swallow that inevitable change:
1. Talk about why changes are happening. Help reluctant workers understand the factors causing the change. Give them as much information as they need to reach the conclusion themselves that the change is really necessary. You don’t have to do it all in one big discussion; a few short ones might be more effective.
2. Demonstrate your consideration for employees’ feelings. Keep talks about new roles and tasks two-way. Otherwise, established employees may feel that they’re being jerked around or treated like babies. Asking for their point of view shows that you care about how they’re affected. And it can help you figure out the best way to sell them on the changes.
3. Present change as opportunities. A change may offer employees any combination of benefits: higher pay, prestige, promotability, independence, variety, authority, a fresh start, etc. Know what appeals to each of your workers and present the changes in the most effective terms. Another persuasive strategy is to describe the opportunities employees may miss if they choose to fight the changes.
4. Give employees some control. Once you’ve overcome an employee’s initial resistance to change, help him or her design a comfortable method and pace of training. The more influence a worker has over the process of change, the more natural it will be for him or her to accept doing things differently.
5. Match learners with proficient co-workers. Designate mini-mentors who can guide employees in their new roles. A co-worker who’s gone through similar training can help someone who’s just starting up the learning curve from getting bent out of shape.
6. Provide a no-fault trial period. Arrange for the employee to try new skills in a low-pressure situation. Set aside time for the rehearsals or dry runs in which the only goal will be to gauge the employee’s progress. When the employee is ready to try out new skills for real, provide a cushion that will ease the acclimation process. Keep the mini-mentor available to build the learner’s confidence.