Changes in the workplace are unavoidable but for those affected, themes of loss, uncertainty and lack of control often crop up for employees.
Change is often external and situational: the new manager, the new policy, the reorganization. Inward psychological transition occurs much more slowly than situational change. One of the most difficult tasks managers deal with during times of major change is assisting employees with their reactions.
Change doesn’t always look the same. It can be sudden or take time. It can be surprising or expected. Change can be positive or negative. Regardless of the exact circumstances of the change, it always starts with an ending of how things were.
So how do we manage the negative reactions and encourage healthy positive reactions to change? Most of this is done through communication. Effective communication can set the tone and guide attitudes about change. It can also help people manage their reactions and define their relationship with change.
Here are some suggestions for successful communication:
- Provide as much detail as possible.
- Be realistic about positives and negatives.
- Be supportive of the change.
- Normalize the range of emotional responses.
- Make sure messaging is consistent with other leadership.
- Explain effects on employees and business.
- Clarify vision, plans and progress.
- Be mindful about both your formal and informal communications about change.
You can diminish the stress of change and manage it through communication, making employees feel supported and giving them clarity in their roles.
Want more insight into managing through major changes at work? This Blue Cross® Virtual Well-Being webinar features tips on recognizing signs of a troubled employee and how to help employees navigate change. You can also sign up for future employer-focused and general interest webinars here, where you’ll also find past sessions and resources.