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Published On: Thursday, 20 April 2017

2017 - Constant Change and the Workplace

2017 - Constant Change and the Workplace

- Christine Willow is a Principal with the Chemistry Consulting Group and Chief Operating Officer for GT Hiring Solutions. She is a Certified Management Consultant (CMC) and a Registered Professional Recruiter (RPR), and can be reached at c.willow@chemistryconsulting.ca.

HR - Change is happening everywhere, it is continuous, constant, and affects our workplaces. From implementing new processes, to moving offices, to changes in team structure - how we deal with the change and how we support our teams through those changes is critical.

These days, it seems that everything needs to be done faster, better, cheaper and in many cases our workplaces are impacted by external events beyond our control. Our clients have higher expectations, demanding more and more of us. Add the speed of change in technology and employees can become overwhelmed and stressed.

Most people tend to have a natural resistance to change, and prefer to hang on to what they know. Even though the reason for change may be positive, employees may feel threatened by the process. In the workplace, a common reason for the resistance to change is the perception that it will increase demand on employees.

It is therefore up to you to ensure that your employees understand that the expectation is not that they must work harder or longer, but differently, to ensure greater efficiency. Neither is the expectation that they do more with less, but again, that they learn to do it differently.

Another key to success when introducing a workplace change is effective communication. Without early and regular communications, employees can become confused and anxious. Develop a communications plan and ensure that it includes not only the what, but also the why and the how.

Providing the context for change will increase both trust and confidence in the process. And, be honest about what you don’t know. Furthermore, communication is a two-way process and should also include input from your employees, allowing them to be an active part of the change. By being included they will find it easier to adapt to the new ways. 

Change in the workplace takes planning in order to achieve the outcome that you want. Keep the following steps in mind:

  • Communicate – why the change is needed, what will be the process and how will it affect individuals as well as the overall organization;
  • Provide opportunity for input and feedback – ensure that employees are engaged all the way through the process and seek their ideas when possible;
  • Identify and recruit those that are more comfortable with change and have them support the others; and
  • Communicate the results to ensure minimum resistance to any future change.

When it comes to changes in the workplace, plan, communicate and then communicate again. Keep in mind that no matter the reason or the effectiveness of the process, change comes with emotions.