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Managing change in the workplace

Updated: Apr 28, 2020

Change in the workplace is inevitable, so it's imperative managers understand how to engage their team, and lead the business, in collaborating around change.


We live in a world of exponential change where an environment of instability and insecurity dominate the business landscape. This can mean changes can be challenging, and if not managed well, can affect morale and engagement.

Whether we like it or not, the rate of change can’t be resisted. It’s like being caught in a rip at the beach. Try and resist the force and you’ll become exhausted and die. Work with the flow whilst looking for opportunities to progress is the only way to survive.

Businesses must resolve critical change issues, innovate the way they work and find new and different ways to grow. It is a constant work-in-progress that is exciting when you embrace it!

The first thing managers must appreciate before considering any change initiative is how change affects employees – both how readily they will accept the change and the emotional 'pain' that always accompanies change.

Negative emotions such as anxiety, worry and fear are ones most people feel when they hear of impending change - this is something that leaders can’t just ignore.

As humans we crave stability, we believe in “better the devil we know than the devil you don’t” as a mechanism for ensuring security.

So what can you do as a manager to manage change effectively?

Step 1: Create a compelling need to change

Humans are driven by emotional responses linked to either pleasure or pain. Establish a sense of urgency by linking change actions to pleasure and status quo actions to pain.

Step 2: Form a powerful coalition

Identify the key influencers and assemble an influential group to lead the change.

Leadership is key and these influencers must understand the barriers that block change and the emotions that are experienced during any change process, such as how people react to change, why people resist change, what motivates people to change and what people need to know in order to embrace change.

Step 3: Articulate and communicate the vision

Work tirelessly to communicate the benefits of every team member working towards the vision. Ensure you are covering the WHAT, WHY and HOW aspects of the change.

Be sure to not only give them a work-related win of the change but also a personal win, something that will make them feel good about themselves.

Step 4: Communicate the plan and recognise progress

Communicate, communicate, and communicate! Effective communication of the plan and the progress is crucial. Ensure all employees are kept involved in the change process along the way and recognise and reward those involved in the wins.

Step 5: Reinforce the benefits of embracing change

To embrace and embed an acceptance of the need to innovate and change in the organisations culture, it is important to overtly link the change initiatives to the benefits gained by individuals and the team – once again, recognise the personal and team wins regularly and engage them in the process – what are their views? Ask their opinions and input in the process.

Change can be challenging, but when managed correctly and the benefits are instilled and worked into the team culture the outcomes can be rewarding, motivating and positively disruptive!


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