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Managing Change in the Workplace

May 13, 2017

by Yvonne Williams, NRA Training Team

A change means to make something different, be it an environmental change, behavioural change, relationship change or emotional change.  Changes comes in many shapes and sizes and can be triggered by many different internal and external factors.

Because change ultimately affects our habitual nature it will evoke emotions that will be different for everyone even those experiencing the same change.

Many leaders struggle with managing change in the workplace. They know the change will be best for the business and its staff, but translating this vision into reality often creates uncertainty, confusion and even anger in the workforce. In particular, change handled poorly can have lasting effects on the business and the people involved.

I recently held a workshop on Leadership where one of the topics was Change Management, and one participant described how strongly he felt about a change that happened 25 years ago in the store that he worked in.  It was amazing to see how much this particular change still affected him, even after 25 years!

Typical reaction to change

When faced with a significant change, most people go through the curve below in some form or another. However, it’s easy for an organisation to get stuck at any one of the stages before acceptance is reached.

Change Curve model

Managing change

Leaders manage change in a planned, conscious manner to get the best results. Managing change can be broken down into 3 core stages:

  1. Prepare
  2. Implement
  3. Embed

1. Prepare 

  • Reviewing any rules or current behaviours / procedures relating to the change that will be impacted
  • Team involvement in planning the change to get a range of perspectives
  • Identifying any barriers or issues that could arise and planning how to deal with these.

2. Implement 

  • Communicating often and early
  • Identifying benefits and gaining support
  • Implementing the plan and being an advocate for change
  • Managing concerns quickly to keep momentum

3. Embed 

  • Getting feedback to make improvements
  • Reward and Recognise
  • Continuous Improvement

Every human reacts to change differently and it is up to managers and people leaders to interpret emotional reactions, and help guide everyone in the team through changes. When leaders manage change well, greater acceptance is achieved and with far less fallout in team satisfaction and retention.

If you would like to find out more about our Leadership Workshops, please contact me at y.williams@nra.net.au

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