The pace of change in life has never been greater.
Think of the changes the creation and growth of the internet have brought about in the last 20 years and the modern-day workplace is now unrecognisable from what it was 20 years ago.
And whilst change can often be a good thing, it can also be a deeply unsettling experience for employees if it is not handled well.
We’ve all had experience of changes being rushed through an organisation with little communication, leading to an inevitable breakdown in trust and morale on the shop floor.
So how do you go about dealing with some of the seismic changes the workplace has seen in the last few years – and those which are inevitably still to come?
No two situations are the same, of course, but there are some guidelines to follow which apply to almost all circumstances – whether planned or unplanned.
The most obvious first step, if possible, is to plan for change. Even if a major event comes out of the blue, it is possible to have drawn up a general contingency plan.
Once change is inevitable, provide leadership to your staff. This helps provide reassurance and also shows that you have a grip on the situation. An important aspect here is to make sure you are up to date with all relevant employment law, so that you have a clear, legal framework around which to base the way you manage the situation.
In some circumstances – such as redundancies, mergers or transfer of undertakings – it is a legal requirement to undertake a formal consultation process. Make sure you communicate the details of this quickly and clearly, so that staff know exactly how the process will unfold.
This will also help maintain productivity and performance by keeping your staff engaged and allowing them a say in the decision-making process.
It is common during any consultation process for employees to raise questions. These are likely to be about issues such as the need for change, whether their views will be considered, the effectiveness of the company leadership and how any changes are likely to affect them personally.
This can be a difficult area. Often, an employer’s first reaction can be to dismiss questions as troublesome or an attack on the company’s leadership. Try to see these issues from your staff’s point of view and engage with them genuinely rather than as a box-ticking exercise.
Remember that any change will affect your employers emotionally – and may well have a physical and mental impact as well. Unless you deal with the reality of these effects, it will be difficult to achieve the most important element of change – taking your team with you.
At HR Solutions Shropshire we provide expert assistance on managing change and the processes you need in place to do so effectively. Get in touch for a free consultation.