When facing change within an organisation, it’s not unusual for employees to feel disorientated and out-of-sorts. Often it can feel like their entire world is crumbling around them and that their sense of identity is being compromised. What looks like a relative minor change to managers and leaders is often amplified the further down the organisation you go as successive elements of the change have a multiplicative effect.
The analogy I often use is that it’s like a set of gear cogs that get progressively smaller as you move down the organisation. What feels like a “half turn” at the top, sends gears spinning faster and faster and with more revolutions per minute as you move down to the bottom.
So, what do you do when change feels like end of the world? What can you do to lessen the feelings that employees have about the size of the change and their threshold to be able to deal with it?
One way is to define some clear boundaries for them. Rarely does an organisational change involve radical, wholesale change of everything. There are often more things left unchanged than there are changed. However, employees rarely see the “edges” of the change.
So in your communications with your teams, set out clearly what falls into the following categories:
- Things we do now that we won’t do in the future (i.e. what are we going to stop doing)
- Things we don’t do now but are going to start doing (i.e. what are we adding or introducing)
- Things we don’t do now and still won’t do in the future (i.e. things that you have no intention of including in the change… often despite rumours to the contrary!)
- Things we do now and will continue to do in the future (i.e. the things we definitely don’t want to stop or compromise)
This will clarify what is “in” and what is “out” for your change and will help your employees to see that the change has boundaries. In turn, that enables them to see it as more manageable and less threatening.
Building the capability of your managers to understand simple but effective approaches like this can help them to effectively lead change. Our programme “Leading Change” does just that. To find out more about the programme, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the link on our website.