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How to Prepare your Employees for Change Management?

Change Management affects your most important asset – your people! The most challenging and critical component of an organisational transformation is managing the people side of change. Unfortunately, it is normal human behaviour to be hesitant or commit to change, because of the unknown elements of what change might mean to your employee’s place in the organisation, how it will impact their day-to-day duties, and how it affects their mindset. Therefore, implementing a culture of change across an organisation requires applying a methodological approach (and process) by preparing employees for changes.

As organisational changes happen daily, both the concept of Change Management and the messaging approach from Change Communication Teams have become critical performance drivers for many organisations; helping to ensure that the transition of change is implemented efficiently. Employee’s need to be prepared for change, and the Change Management process (and plan) must be followed to ensure that everyone is engaged on a new change path, but also fully involved in all its related activities.

Your employees’ acceptance or rejection of change will influence its outcomes. Outright objective to change by employees may not happen, but they may be reluctant to drive or engage in the change. It is difficult to ‘buy into’ what you do not fully understand or comprehend the scope of a change project. Fear subsides only by making everyone a part of the Change Management process.

When is organisational Change Management required?

Organisational Change Management is the human element of organisational change. This involves applying a people-focused structure to business transitions to ensure any positive benefits. When an organisation decides to move toward a desired future state, Executive Teams and Managers must ensure that their employees are not left behind and are consulted on the approach (and reasons). Executive Teams and Managers that are seeking to improve their Change Management skills will also need to develop competencies across both Business Management and Psychology.

Businesses undergo change transformations for a variety of reasons. They may be working to expand into new areas, strengthen their market position, reduce financial and operational costs, or improve their operational efficiencies. When implemented in the correct way, Change Management can bring significant benefits by increasing the teamwork needed for the organisation to both accept the change and operate at the most efficient level possible. Change Management is simply a systematic approach that applies specific tools, resources, and knowledge toward minimising the negative outcomes of such change transitions.

Organisational Change Management is required whenever your organisation implements a project or program that impacts how its operations runs on a day-to-day basis. For example, when something changes, such as:

The work content that employees produce

Many roles call upon employees to conduct regular and timely tasks across the week. The tools used to do the tasks become familiar and second nature over periods of time. So, even minor tweaks can interfere with work processes and cause legitimate concern for team members.

The roles of each employee

Individuals often find their identity within an organisation and based on what roles or skills they excel at. When an employee is asked to work within a different role, they may feel uncertain, apprehensive, and not confident in their ability to change. When someone loses direction and focus, they no longer feel recognised for the skills that made them successful and they can quite easily become disgruntled.

The actual organisation itself

Executive Team, key stakeholders, and Managers quite often debate significant changes for months prior to making a decision, thus meaning everyone involved in that conversation will understand the impact of change (on a deeper level). Regardless of whether they agree or not agree with the direction being taken, they have either the time to accept and support the new change or to reject the new change altogether.

The teams or individual employees not included in these conversations, alternatively, do not have the luxury of this ‘top-level’ insight. As a result, these same individuals have less time to prepare for any planned change and may in turn decide not to fully commit to the change process, making the entire process much more difficult to manage.

Why communication is critically important to your Change Management approach?

Change can occur in an organisation in many ways – strategic, leadership, operational, or technological changes. By helping employees better understand the requirement for change, you create a workplace that is more open-minded and open to change discussions. Change Management can help ease this inward tension and create a smooth transitional process.

Change Management is a formal approach of communicating with employees. It tells them:

WHY is change happening?

  • Keeping employees informed from the start of your change initiative helps smoothen the transition process, but also shortens the period for change.

WHAT change will look like for them?

  • If employees are more open to change, they will become more engaged in the process of making it happen and be more successful with delivery of the change initiative.

HOW will change benefit them?

  • When employees are more engaged, the transition can happen much more quickly and ultimately save your organisation time, costs, and resources.

WHAT is in it for me?

  • Do not forget to articulate this phrase!
  • One (1) of the most important phrases you may come across in Change Communication.
  • If your employees understand what’s in it for them personally (and professionally), you are more likely to see individuals commit to the change and take ownership of the change.
  • Failing to articulate effectively “What is in it for me?” will only hinder your change efforts.

By creating and opening the communication lines in your organisation, you set a ‘Baseline’ Standard. Over time and with future progression, this will increase the level of trust your employees have in your organisation (think culture!) and the decision making that Executive Management are undertaking.

People fear the unknown and the impact of that fear on how to adapt. Having a strategy, purpose, and vision in place can help to reduce that fear, if not eliminate that fear. Setting an organisational standard for change early (and often) in your Change Management Program and maintaining consistency in your approach but also your Communication Plan, this can help create a more adaptable and innovative workplace.

6 Factors to help employees overcome fear of change

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Communicate the “WHY?” behind the change by helping employees overcome their FEAR by manging the change transition effectively – this is a ‘top-to-bottom’ strategic vision and process driven by your Executive Team, through Key Stakeholders, Managers, Supervisors, and then throughout the entire organisation.

When changes are happening in an organisation, it is important for the Change Team to prepare employees for what’s about to come and the actual change journey itself. This can be done by communicating the change early (and often), providing training and support, and being available to answer pertinent questions. Employees need to understand WHY the change is happening and WHAT it means for them. If they are not given this information, they may resist the change or become disgruntled and not participate at all.

Leading change can be complicated process, but it is important to have a robust plan in place to ensure that everyone is on board with your Change Project. Change management is a critical process for any organisation undergoing change. By following these simple steps, you can help your employees through the transition phases and ensure that the change initiative is successful.

However, you need to be aware of these six (6) factors that can impact the response your employees have to change.

1. Control

Your employees take pride in the elements of control they have over their role, tasks, and operations in the workplace. Changes that can be perceived as negative by employees include reducing the amount of control they have (e.g., hiring a new Manager that constantly micro-manages team members). Therefore, the more control and autonomy an employee feels they have, the more challenges they will be able to manage without excessive stress and issues.

2. Predictability

By simply knowing what tasks are to come next can decrease stress and allow employees to take confidence of future changes. This process is known as ‘perceived control’ and can be a much more effective way of implementing change. By letting your employees know what is going to happen, they can feel more in control of the change process than they would be if they remain unaware of what changes are taking place.

3. Understanding

Making changes without explaining the reason behind the change can negatively impact employees and alter their response to committing to the change. Explaining why the change is occurring allows employees to make sense of the situation and therefore understand it better – another example of ‘perceived control’. With no explanation, employees can feel helpless and experience anxiety or stress or resist the change.

4. Timeframe

Sudden changes may seem like an innovative idea (at first thought), but they can have many drawbacks when it comes to the response to these changes that employees have. The timeframe between announcing a change and implementing the change is critically, as employees should have adequate time to prepare for the change in order to avoid increasing the stress they experience.

5. Relationships

The relationship that employees have with their co-workers, Supervisors, Managers, and Executive Team also plays a significant role in enforcing change in the workplace. Employees that feel as though they are being heard, respected, and valued are more comfortable asking for information and voicing any concerns they have about the direction of their organisation. Having great employee relationships encourages cross-functional collaboration, reduces stress and fosters resilience.

6. Empowerment

Empower Managers to lead through change. Major change transformations often require asking employees to adopt specific behaviours, training, or skillsets in order for transition towards success. But when Executive Teams or Senior Management model the same behavioural changes, transformations are 5x more likely to be successful!

Executive Teams not only need to be equipped with information and resources, but they need to feel confident leading their organisation through change. This can be especially challenging, as they encounter more pressure to provide better answers, better solutions, better structure, and to support their operational teams. But how your leadership group reacts to change will filter down and impact your Senior Management, Managers, Supervisors, who then impact their employees and their engagement capability.

Therefore, it is the responsibility for your Change Team to empower Executive Teams, Senior Management, and Managers to help them understand the fundamentals of change, including:

  • How to be an effective leader during times of change?
  • How do individuals react to and navigate change?
  • How to address roadblocks?
  • How to minimise areas of resistance?


Many organisations and their Executive Teams approach Change Management apprehensively, by worrying about having to persuade reluctant staff members to accept ‘new’ ways of doing business. But, in fact, many people welcome a change mandate — but provided they have a chance to collaborate and contribute to it!

Managing people through change involves motivating your people to work together on planning and making the changes to current processes, by giving your team member clear goals, purpose, and focus on defined roles. Efficient Change Management processes start with a realistic analysis of your business systems, processes, structures, strategy, and leadership approaches to determine the actual need for genuine change. Determining the need for change and involving your people in each step – “WHY? WHAT? and HOW?” – will help your organisation manage a smooth Change Management process, strengthen your business model, and retain your key staff, business skills, and knowledge.

Yet another example of the many benefits of change. New employees joining an organisation are especially valuable because they can often point to areas of opportunity for improvement (might have overlooked), at the detriment of those employees who have had a long tenure. But even existing employees should be encouraged to question why processes are done a certain way and then look for new ways to get work done faster, with more autonomy, and with higher levels of quality and customer service output.

Managing change and especially disruptive change is necessary to be a successful long-term business. Major change only takes place when people shift their values, aspirations, skills, and behaviours. When people stay in a particular situation or environment for a lengthy period of time, they usually develop established ways of thinking, feeling, and behaving, which are all disrupted by the onslaught of major change transformations.

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