Strategies For Helping Your Employees Through Organizational Change
From virtual workplace apps to risk-management software, the number and kind of innovations changing how we work and connect with customers are coming fast and furious. As a result, many companies are undergoing organizational change—in particular digital transformation—in order to streamline their business processes and establish more effective ways to market their services or products.
However, many employees find change intimidating. Some are overwhelmed by the prospect of having to learn new technologies and adapt to new ways of doing things. Others are afraid they won’t have the ability or opportunity to learn new skills, leading their employer to replace them with a younger candidate with more current skills—or to scrap their job function entirely in favor of automation.
While all of these concerns are valid, the truth is that employers can benefit significantly from helping their existing employees adapt to organizational change instead of replacing them with a younger workforce. There are four reasons for this:
1. It’s more affordable to upskill and retrain employees than it is to lay them off and recruit new people.
2. It’s better for the company’s employer brand, because workers can and do share information about their employers on sites like glassdoor.com.
3. It enhances employee engagement and loyalty.
4. It will result in a workforce that not only possesses in-depth knowledge of the organization and industry, but is also up to date on precisely those skills and technology the company needs.
If your company is undergoing organizational change, then it’s your responsibility as a manager to support your employees through this challenging time. The following strategies can help:
- Provide transparency by communicating effectively. In his Forbes article titled “Why Does Organizational Change Usually Fail? New Study Provides Simple Answer,” Victor Lipman cites a recent study that found that a lack of communication and broken communication were the most frequent cause of failed change efforts. That’s why it’s critical to ensure your employees know what’s going to change, why it needs to change, and how those changes will affect them. Relying on announcements from the C-suite is only part of the equation: you have to clarify those announcements and make yourself available to address any concerns your team members express.
- Provide guidance for each employee individually. Organizational changes will have a varying impact on your employees depending on their respective roles. That’s why you need to sit down with each team member individually to determine how his or her responsibilities will change—and set learning or development goals accordingly. Together, you should design a personalized transformation plan for your employee to work towards these objectives, including a timeline with mini-goals and check-in dates to assess his or her progress.
- Ensure your employees have the resources they need. Acquiring new skills and learning how to use new technology inevitably involves a learning curve. Make sure that there are good resources available to your team, for example by providing online training courses. If there are new skills the entire team needs to learn, it can be useful to organize an on-site workshop that everyone can attend. Seeing that their colleagues also have to adjust and working together to learn new skills can help strengthen the team as a whole.
- Be empathetic. Your employees may show a range of emotions ranging from intimidation and anxiety to excitement and overconfidence. Be empathetic, and give them some room to adapt to the new situation. In time, everything will balance out again.
Organizational change can be intimidating to employees. Use these strategies to help your people navigate the transition, and you stand a good chance of making your current team more up-to-date, engaged, loyal, and resilient.