Whether it’s moving jobs, moving to a new school or adapting to a new office layout, we all face times when we have to let go of something that has marked out our identity and defined who we are. For that reason, helping employees to deal with change is never easy. In any change situation there is the fear of what we will have to leave behind in order to do something differently, mixed with trepidation and excitement about the future.
Map out the emotions
A simple technique I use with individuals and groups is to get them to think about the change they are facing and to map out the emotions they have about the past and the emotions they have about the future. I then ask them to separate these into positive and negative emotions for each.
It’s actually quite surprising how many of the emotions they identify are positive (e.g. excitement about a new role, joy and leaving behind a difficult colleague or class mate etc.) even in the most challenging change situations. The process of generating this map is itself quite cathartic … seeing their emotions mapped out in a balanced way helps to quantify the split between fear and excitement.
Short term wins
More importantly though, it gives the Manager or Coach the ability to see where they need to focus their attention to achieve short term wins.
I’m defining short-term wins as relatively easy, clear, unambiguous and visible signs that the change they have made is the right choice. For example, if a fear was “having to work with new people”, finding them a buddy or taking time to properly introduce them to their new colleagues will be seen as a win. If they are excited about the chance to use new equipment, giving them the training and time to use the new equipment as soon as possible will reinforce their confidence and positive feelings towards the change.
By understanding the real concerns your employees have, you can be more focused on delivering the right results to move them forward and to ultimately give your change the best chance of success.