Change within an organization can often have an upsetting and unsettling impact for employees if not managed properly. While all leaders need to be aware of how their team members react to change, it’s especially important to be mindful of how organizational change affects the mental health and well-being of staff members who might already be struggling.
This is where leaders can leverage the power of their emotional intelligence (EI) and modern change management techniques to address change in a psychologically safe and supportive way.
What can you do to ensure successful transitions in your workplace? Keep reading to find out:
Consider the Impact of Change
Any organizational change that impacts or changes an employee’s role has the potential to induce stress, which can be overwhelming to the team member. These issues can have a negative impact not just on mental well-being, but also on overall productivity while at work.
Unless your workplace is constantly changing, new developments to roles and responsibilities might feel jarring for your team, so it’s critical to prioritize employee well-being by creating emotionally supportive workplaces.
Begin by setting the expectation of change with all team members and make it clear that these changes are intended to improve the work environment, equipment, technology, processes, and workplace skills and abilities.
Focus on the positives and take the time to meet with individual team members to assess how they are responding to recent changes to ensure they are coping adequately. By using empathy and listening and responding thoughtfully, you can ensure employees are included in the change process.
Tips for Successful Transitions
As workplaces transition into newer, more effective, and more efficient models of success, getting employee “buy in” can better be accomplished through effective and ongoing change management techniques. Use these tips to prepare for, and successfully transition through times of change:
Celebrate Past Successes
Taking the time to celebrate and reflect on successes that were achieved using the old system is a step that is often overlooked in change management efforts, but is essential to helping employees feel valued.
Sometimes when organizations implement new systems, employees feel that it is because their efforts and outputs failed and thus blame themselves. This might also cause them to resent the organization and leadership for not recognizing the work they have done to date under the old system. Addressing and celebrating these successes is a prudent step for any leader.
Lead With a Vision of the Outcome
Help your team members picture what their workplace will be like once the change is completed. If possible, use visual aids such as charts, graphs, and (when applicable) artists’ renderings to fully convey the positive benefits expected as a result of the change.
By tapping into the part of the brain that focuses on images instead of just words, you can help employees develop a more complete understanding of why the change is needed, and the positive outcome it will produce. This can be instrumental in gaining buy-in from team members and allaying any fears associated with the change.
One aspect of change that often causes great anxiety is uncertainty.
When an organization is undergoing times of change it’s critical to be open and transparent, but also to be detail-oriented and publicly share critical details about the intended timeline and steps needed to achieve the goal.
Openly Discuss the Pros and Cons
Taking the time to make sure your staff feel heard and understood is one of the most important things a leader with high emotional intelligence can do to support their team.
By taking the time to address employee concerns, making resources available for them to review and to educate themselves, and ensuring that their concerns are brought to management attention when appropriate can go a long way towards helping employees feel more comfortable with change at work.
It’s most important that you don’t minimize their concerns or pretend that they don’t exist; your staff will see right through this tactic and it will negatively affect your ability to lead them moving forward.
Link the Change to Similar Positive Changes
Take the time to remind staff of a time when they successfully overcame a different challenge or hurdle. Taking the time to respond to a concern with a statement like: “you’ve done this before and have been successful each time,” can go a long way towards reassuring a stressed-out team member.
By following these steps, you can help staff better manage stress and anxiety to avoid or mitigate negatively affecting productivity and mental well-being during times of change.
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