An old business adage says that if you’re not growing, then you’re dying. As the world and the market around you evolve, your company must make constant changes to continue on a growth trajectory lest you quickly find yourself becoming obsolete. Entrepreneurs and business leaders tend to be risk-takers who embrace change, but employees are likely to resist it. There’s a lot you can do to help your employees accept change with more enthusiasm.
Ask Your Staff What’s Involved, Then Listen
Executives sometimes drastically underestimate the amount of work involved in implementing change on the front lines of the operation. After all, employees must deal with customers’ learning curves as well as with their own. Some changes require hundreds of records to be brought up to date manually or old records to be discarded. Others are even more involved.
Ask your front-line staff to tell you what’s involved, then try to listen without minimizing their concerns. You might not be able to solve their problems, but your employees will drag their feet much less if they feel heard and know that you are trying to give them the time they need.
Communicate the Reasons for the Change
Your team will undoubtedly resist changes that seem unnecessary or counterproductive to them. Tell them what the benefits of the change are, explaining why it’s needed. See whether the person who convinced you to make the change might be willing to address your staff as well, whether it was a production manager, an IT genius, or an outside advisor. Take the time to answer your team’s questions, and be sure to set up another meeting to discuss the questions that will arise when you begin implementing the new system.
Get Employees Involved in Decision Making
The earlier you bring your core staff members into the process, the more committed they will be to the solutions you develop together. If you don’t talk to them about a change until the end of the decision-making process, they will have missed out on the steps during which you identified the problem, brainstormed possibilities, and evaluated options. You’ll be ready to carry out a solution, and they will still want to exhaust all possible ideas or might still be unconvinced of the necessity for change in the first place. A wise leader finds a way to let people feel involved in the process, even if the solution has already been chosen.
Reward Employees Who Embrace New Processes
Your team takes its cues about your priorities from your actions, not your words. If you want your team members to behave in new ways, then you need to measure and reward that new behavior, not just ask for it. Set up metrics and benchmarks for the new procedure at all levels, offering public and enthusiastic feedback and tangible rewards wherever possible. Rewards don’t have to be expensive; teams love rewards such as casual dress days, pizza parties, and early dismissal.
Sometimes business leaders forget how hard change can be for their employees. The next time you need to shift course, make sure you are taking the time to bring your team into alignment with the change first.