Change is almost the only certain thing in businesses today. So HR pros need to continually help employees navigate change.
In fact, your guidance to managers and front-line employees is critical.
“Employees may feel unsure and fearful about any new direction … or change they are forced to deal with,” says Kate Zabriskie, president of Business Training Works, Inc. “As their leader, their cues on how to act and feel will come directly from you.”
Build, tweak an action plan
The best way to lead through change: Build an action place that preserves your culture and makes way for progress.
Here’s a seven-step plan to help managers and employees navigate change. Keep it as a guideline, and tweak it with each unique change you and your people face:
1. Clarify goals
Clearly define objectives and how the company and its leaders will support employees throughout the change.
This does two important things: gives employees a firm sense of what they’re moving toward and a picture of their roles and level of support throughout it.
2. Identify leaders
Some front-line managers and influential employees can be champions and leaders throughout the changes because they:
- have experience in relation to the changes
- adapt quickly, and/or
- support change.
Ask them to be team leaders in early adoption, peer training and confidence building with the changes.
3. Map the move
You’ll have to address processes, goals, expectations and tasks.
To give managers and employees some stability through the changes, draw an outline that shows current processes, goals, expectations and tasks and what they’ll look like when the change is completed.
You don’t need the exact road map on how you’ll get from one end to the other. Leave that area flexible for input from managers and employees’ as they roll with the changes.
4. Regularly re-calculate direction
Change doesn’t happen in a linear path. You’ll have setbacks and great strides.
The key to handling them is to continually communicate with the team on progress (this deters gossip, too) and get input on how to get to the next step.
5. Recognize and face challenges
With change comes challenge, which can’t be swept under the rug.
Share what you think can go wrong early, and ask employees for ideas on how to avoid the issues. Tell them about roadblocks as soon as you hit them, so you can ask for feedback.
6. Honor the past
Change often means ditching the old way of doing things. That can unsettle some employees who’ve always done things the “old way” and upset managers who created the “old way.”
That’s why it’s important to recognize how past efforts, projects and ideas paved the way for the change. And don’t toss everything to the curb immediately. You might find throughout change that some original ideas and processes still work best.
7. Set new standards
Re-clarify new expectations – from performance goals to behavior standards – when you make the changes and hit the goals. Continue to motivate managers and employees by telling them you’re proud of their adaptability and confident in their abilities to meet evolving expectations.