The primary challenge in change management is managing the emotions of change. Changing the physical infrastructure and the established policy is easy. The hard part is to push the employees out of their accustomed habits and comfort zones, and make them inculcate the changed paradigms in their normal work routine. Failure to reconcile the employees to such changed paradigms leads to change striking the employees emotionally, manifesting in disorientation, stress, lower productivity, and lower morale.
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The main reason why people react emotionally to change is uncertainty regarding the change. The best approach to managing the emotions of change is to make explicit what the change is all about, key elements of the new paradigms, the extra work and changes to work routines that the changed process demands from the employees and the team, and how to fulfill such changed requirements.
The role of effective change leadership is crucial to provide clear guidelines on what the employees need to do different. Change leadership personnel also need to ensure a sound two-way communication system to mentor the employees trying to cope with the change process.
One aspect very often overlooked when managing the change process is selling the change to the employees.
Most managers dictate the changed requirements to the employees and then go ahead with ways to help employees cope or manage change. Such an approach does not make the employee convinced or committed to change. Convincing the employees about the reasons for the change, and making clear in quantitative terms the benefits the why change is unavoidable, or the benefits the change would bring to the organization and to themselves, is the best way to make employees accept change and put their heart and soul in the change effort.
The best organizational change management strategy to resolve emotional issues related to change is allowing employees to take up ownership of change by involving them in the change process, considering their suggestions and inputs, and putting them in charge of executing various components or modules of the change process. This increases their commitment and motivation, and eliminates the emotional detachment of shedding entrenched values and habits for new unfamiliar ones.
Successful management of change requires making employees familiar with the change by telling the employees of what to do differently, providing them with the tool and facilities to work in the new requirements, and offering adequate training to develop competencies. This requires undertaking a skill-assessment relative to the new post-change standards, identifying the skill gaps, and instituting effective training and development initiatives.
The uncertainty associated with change invariably causes increased stress levels. Providing employees with stress management programs that make them competent in reducing stress levels are an important part of managing the change process.
Another crucial mechanism that helps employees is support groups. Support group of like-minded people and professionals who can guide and reconcile the employee facing difficulty with the change helps in managing the emotions of change effectively.
Managing the emotions of change well facilitates smooth and seamless change and allows companies to leverage the benefits of change fully.