How to Encourage Change in the Workplace

Making changes too quickly can cause undue stress.
i Christopher Robbins/Digital Vision/Getty Images

While workplace change is an essential part of staying competitive, it can be difficult to undertake. Simply mentioning the word “change” may induce panic. There are numerous reasons for this but, trying to anticipate each one is counterproductive. Focusing too much on the “whys” will only leave you frustrated. Your job is to encourage your colleagues to embrace change, regardless of their initial reactions.

    Step 1

    Acknowledge that there may be potholes along the path to reinvention. Workplace changes do not have to be seamless to be effective. There will be inconveniences as everyone adapts to new procedures. Do not expect everyone to be thrilled about change -- even when there are seemingly few drawbacks to it.

    Step 2

    Recruit “regular Joes” to help convey why change is needed. Explaining why change is needed can help alleviate fears and resistance. Choose employees of diverse backgrounds and skill levels so that everyone feels represented.

    Step 3

    Ease everyone into the idea of impending changes. Making calculated steps can instill confidence that management isn’t making hasty decisions. Lay out a time line for progress to include the introduction of new procedures. Communicate that the focus is on the journey.

    Step 4

    Emphasize the importance of teamwork. Cohesive workplaces meet challenges better than their fractured counterparts. Stress that your workplace is strong and can handle changes. Point out past successes that may include personnel mastering computer system upgrades or successfully converting from paper to computerized filing systems. Engage in team-building activities to enhance existing bonds and create new ones.

    Step 5

    Address worker concerns without appearing condescending or uncaring. Some employees may distrust company strategy and fear for their job security. Other employees may feel that the old ways are the best ways. Empathize with them. Showing that you’re not a robotic messenger can win over doubtful colleagues.

    Step 6

    Smile through the growing pains. Ensure that your workplace actions support your official position -- even if you have doubts. You can’t openly tout the benefits of change, while being overheard lamenting the changes in your office. Realize that your actions will be scrutinized, especially by hesitant or resistant colleagues.

    Step 7

    Give enthusiastic updates and pep talks throughout the process. Encouragement shouldn’t stop when implementation begins. Congratulate employees as they complete skills training. Relay complements from clients regarding their satisfaction with the changes.

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