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Employees generally hate change. Whether it's a merger or restructuring, or a simple change in the color of the office, studies show both staff members and managers resist.
The reactions may seem irrational but change can suggest an invasion of turf. Some employees feel it lowers their status or eliminates privileges. They might also worry that new procedures or equipment will make it more difficult to do the same tasks or increase their workloads.
And above all, staff members fret about job security. Changes in the organization or a new boss may suggest to some that they'll lose their jobs.
Here are six keys to harmony and resilience during transitions:
1. Announce the plan. You must tell your employees about the general plan, either individually or in small groups. Explain why it's necessary.
2. Accentuate the positive. To help win over your staff, minimize the negatives and emphasize the positive factors that make the change desirable and necessary. Answer all questions thoroughly.
3. Hold trial runs. Use tests and trial runs to help overcome doubts and suspicions.
4. Involve staff. Let as many employees as possible participate in planning and executing the changes. Ask them for opinions and to point out potential problems.
5. Monitor the change. The executive instituting the change should be on hand with as many assistants as necessary to ensure that the plan proceeds as expected and to deal with any unanticipated problems.
6. Review the results. Schedule a review to ensure that the changes went into effect as planned and that backsliding isn't undercutting the effort. Compare results with expectations, and be prepared to make alterations.
In return for a little planning and discussion, you'll gain focused, productive and healthy employees with fewer negative responses to the change.