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Business, just like everything else in this world, is constantly in flux. Success requires evolution. When a company fails to change over time they can become stagnate. Despite knowing that, yes, change is inevitable, it can still elicit fear in employees and managers. The art of change management relies heavily on organization. It also requires empathy. Change in business doesn’t just affect the bottom line—it also impacts employees, in a variety of ways.

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When change is underway, it’s important that management takes the time to consider the impact it will have on the company as a whole. 

Open Communication

For many people, change can be scary. In business, change is often associated with frozen wages and lost jobs. And while we know that’s not all that change management encompasses, it’s necessary to acknowledge that the idea of change can cause stress for your employees.

To counter their fears—communicate. Effective communication can stop rumours and misinformation from spreading.

Address that change is coming and outline the effects it may have on staff. It’s natural when dealing with workplace changes for employees to wonder what will happen to them—how their positions will be affected. Tackle these questions as soon as you can.

Provide an open forum where staff can ask questions. For questions you may not be able to answer immediately, provide a timeline when employees can expect answers.

Communication is key to effective team building, assuaging worries and preventing difficult situations from getting out of hand.

A Solid and Well-Defined Roadmap   

Preparing your employees for change requires planning. If you want to avoid mass panic and confusion (and you should), you need to ensure you have outlined the vision you have in place, and the steps required to get to that end goal.

This documented plan will layout the steps required to execute the change you’re making. It should account for costs, timing, resources and the individuals necessary to implement the plan.

Identify the scope of the change, the overall goal, and put in place reasonable due dates, measurable targets and how you plan to measure and analyze your progress.

Planning leads to effective and qualified decision making—which in turn will ensure you manage change smoothly.

Involve Employees

Successful change management focuses on all employees, not just those at the top. Therefore, when change is on the horizon, organizations should avoid leading with a top-down approach.

In change management, a top-down approach can lead to low participation, particularly from less senior employees and management. Unless top management has a lot of knowledge about day-to-day tasks and policies, a top-down approach can lose out on vital specialized knowledge, which can have a negative ripple effect on multiple departments.

Employees should be involved change management. Once a decision is made on a major change, steps should immediately be put in place to share this information with employees, giving them time to prepare for the changes that are to come.

When upper management remains secretive and insular about major changes, it can lead to resentment and lack of trust from employees, which in turn can lead talent to look for work somewhere else.

Change Takes Time

In business, change most definitely takes time. There are many variables that must be accounted for. Planning, communication and engagement are the three elements that every business must address when change is on the horizon.

Successful change management requires honesty—companies should aim to be as open as they can. Change management also requires organization. Using technology, such as an HRIS can help your organization outline and execute a major change. The modern HRIS includes tools for communication, analytics, notifications—everything needed for a smooth and successful change.

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Tanya Dawber

Tanya Dawber

Tanya Dawber has spent the past 25+ years working in HR related roles. Her love of employee benefits led her to switch to insurance, getting her life license and specializing in employee group benefit plans. In her spare time, Tanya enjoys travelling with her husband, playing golf and fishing.