How to Manage Change in the Workplace

Stay positive; changes can be good.

Stay positive; changes can be good.

Whether it's a change in management or a total overhaul of your company's processes, change in the workplace can bring out a variety of emotions in employees. Before your workplace gets overrun with emotional outbursts, poor productivity or other bad effects of the change, take some steps to equip yourself and your staff for dealing with it.

Keep the lines of communication open. If you're a manager, know that your employees are going to have lots of questions about the changes, and will resort to the rumor mill when they don't get answers from management. Have a weekly question and answer session with employees, or start an email forum allowing employees to ask questions. If you're not a manager, let managers know that you need good communication; form an employee "change committee" or compile questions on behalf of co-workers and submit them to your managers.

Display the new rules, management structure or procedures prominently. When employees know what is expected of them -- and when it will be expected -- they'll have an easier time coping and rolling with the changes. Create a whiteboard or posters with reminders about the changes -- working to strike a tone that is authoritative while not nagging. If you're an employee, write down information about the changes that affect you and keep them in a handy location near your workplace. Showing that you're able to adapt to changes can make a positive impression and may set you up for future advancement.

Talk about the emotions you may be feeling. A lot of upheaval in the workplace can leave employees feeling angry, depressed, frustrated or experiencing many other negative emotions. If you're an employee, find a friend or trusted colleague with whom you can talk to about the changes, and who will help you sort out the petty grievances from the real concerns. If you're a manager, acknowledge that employees are going to be feeling these emotions during the period of change, and work to show empathy and compassion when you see this happening.

Tip

  • If you're a company leader, also consider offering a training for managers ahead of the big change in order to equip them with the logistical and interpersonal skills needed to handle employees' questions and concerns.
 

About the Author

Nicole Vulcan has been a journalist since 1997, covering parenting and fitness for The Oregonian, careers for CareerAddict, and travel, gardening and fitness for Black Hills Woman and other publications. Vulcan holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and journalism from the University of Minnesota. She's also a lifelong athlete and is pursuing certification as a personal trainer.

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