Engaging employees through change

The more your staff understand and accept the need for business change, the more positively they'll respond to the change process.

Your staff may invest themselves in their role in your business. Be aware that their jobs may contribute significantly to their financial security, identity, sense of purpose, self-confidence and professional development. Changes that affect their roles may have a big professional and personal impact.

Your staff may have to work through a sense of loss. Fostering their understanding and involvement will help them work positively and purposefully on change tasks. Consider these tips for engaging your staff in the change process.

Engage staff during the planning phase

Start involving your staff early in the change process and establish clear points for staff discussion and input.

Involve staff in changes that affect them

Seek their input in decisions where you can and factor in their views. Remember that your team members have a close knowledge of your systems and processes and may have valuable suggestions to make.

Help your staff manage loss

Change means people lose something. Through the change process, your staff will lose familiar processes and elements of their role that give them confidence and security. Help your staff make a good transition using discussion sessions designed to allow staff to share their feelings about the changes, scheduling one-on-one meetings with appropriately skilled members of your management team, or by making counselling available to help staff work through their emotional responses.

Choose a diverse project team

Select a team of people with a good range of skills and knowledge of your business, and across the various roles and levels of your business. This key team will help you identify issues, capture staff attitudes and concerns, and progress your change process.

Stay focused on the reason for change

Understanding the argument for change will help your staff stay focused on what needs to be done. Repeat your 'reason for change' messages whenever you can - and link them to the steps you are taking - to help your staff make sense of each stage of the change process.

Identify attitude barriers early

Use your management team and team leaders to identify early any attitudes that need to change. If you find any staff cultivating negative attitudes about the change process, meet with them directly to work through their issues and ask for a constructive approach to dealing with them.

Define the tasks well

Break down the change stages into smaller initiatives that are easy for staff to follow and understand. Knowing what stage they are at in the change process will build their confidence and sense of security.

Build a culture of continuous improvement

Always be looking for ways to improve your business processes and performance, and invite your staff to share their ideas and observations for improvement. Organise forums and online contributions to capture and recognise their input and celebrate your shared successes. Your steps will help your staff recognise change as a positive part of driving continuous improvement and build their morale and investment.

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