“We are moving the corporate headquarters to a location that offers greater tax benefits and cost savings.”
“We must downsize the company, but don’t worry, your job is safe.”
“We are merging with XYZ Company in order to maximize growth.”
Each of these statements represents one word: CHANGE.
To a leader focused on growth and profitability, these changes make perfect sense. These are ways to consolidate, produce more for less, increase income, and lower costs of doing business.
But to most employees, change can be a scary word. “Change” to them means “uncertainty” and “loss of security.”
The results of change can sometimes backfire because of these uncertainties, whether perceived or real. What these changes sound like to your employees may be…
“That means I will have to drive an hour to work and back each day…and for the same pay.”
“I hear you, but I’m not so sure my job is safe.”
“Merging means layoffs. You won’t need two people to do one job.”
And so employees begin to leave. Productivity is negatively impacted, as fewer people attempt to carry the added workload.
As the word gets out to the media and in the business world, customers may start to question the changes as well and adjust their behaviors.
In short, change can have unintended consequences; and yet, it is essential to business.
How can you as a leader become a master of change?
Communicate to employees first.
Very often, the first time employees hear about a change in the company is when they read about it in the business journal. This triggers an immediate sense of distrust, and lack of trust is one of the top reasons employees leave a company.
Be transparent, and give your employees a chance to provide ideas for change.
Years ago, a large company fell on hard times. Management began to huddle behind closed doors. Consultants were called in. The numbers took a nose dive. And yet, in employee meetings, leaders continued to gloss over the financials, believing that telling employees the reality of the numbers might cause even greater impact.
But astute employees could see the truth. They knew. In fact, around table after table in the cafeteria, they discussed the numbers. At just one table, they came up with three simple solutions that would save the company a million dollars.
But the leaders would never hear those ideas because they chose to only meet with the same team day after day. Had they been transparent with their employees and asked for collective ideas on how to save on costs and generate new income, they could have saved the company.
Help your employees adapt to change.
In the workplace, as in society, there are four types of wiring, with varying combinations thereof.
- The D-wired individuals in an organization love change, often because they are the drivers of it.
- I-wired individuals normally embrace change. They are quick to adapt and see the upside to change.
- But to the more introverted S-wired employees, change impacts security and as such, it may be hard to accept immediately.
- C-wired individuals tend to eye change with a wary eye.
So you have those who promote and welcome change combined with those who perceive it as a threat. There is a natural tension between the two.
As a leader, being aware of this natural tension is a great first step to effectively bringing needed change to an organization. You can help the S- and C-wired individuals adapt by giving them plenty of time to adapt and adjust to the changes. You will need to allow time for questions and have your reasons for change well defined. If your people know that your changes are well-founded and if they are introduced in a timely fashion, they will more readily accept the changes.
Consider the full cost of change.
Here is a point many miss. While tax incentives and mergers may offer measureable cost savings, consider the added cost of employee attrition. If the changes you are making affect employees negatively, it is likely to impact your company negatively as well. You will want to weight this carefully in terms of cost analysis to determine if the change is truly worth it.
As the CEO of Strength Leader Development, Deb Ingino is a highly sought-after international executive mentor, coach, trainer and speaker. Deb is well versed in global business operations and helps business leaders and their teams to discover and leverage their strengths, so they can create highly collaborative teams that deliver great results. With a refreshingly direct style, Deb helps leaders and their teams to deliver profitable results. Connect with Deb to learn more about her mentorship and coaching programs to equip you with advanced strategies to elevate your results.