How to Prepare Staff for Management Change

The only constant is change itself. And most people resist, if not outright fear, it. Humans are creatures of habit, so change is viewed with apprehension and suspicion. This is evident in all areas and walks of life, the workplace included.

But, as the saying reminds us, change is inevitable. Change at work - especially in management personnel or structure - has the potential for tremendous upheaval and disruption. Taking the steps to minimize the “damage” is not only good advice, but a necessary step in the process. Prepare your staff for management change, and the transition should be relatively smooth.

Be Open and Transparent

Don’t hide the reasoning behind or the change itself. Any workplace is subject to gossip via the grapevine, so head off rumours and assumptions by discussing the change early and in the open. Be the first to announce it...don’t wait and allow incorrect rumours fear to snowball.

Explain the Thinking

Why are you making this change? How will it benefit the company (and therefore the staff)? Clearly outline the reasons and thinking behind any management change as soon as the decision has been made.

Outline the Effects

As part of the announcement, outline the ways that a change either will, or potentially will, affect the staff and employees on the front lines. That’s really the cause of the fear that comes with change - individuals worried about how it will affect them personally. The staff is used to and comfortable with the ways things are now. They might not like the new manager. The new boss may disrupt the flow that exists, or alter systems and processes that are in place already. Clearly discuss the changes that may happen, but also dismiss any concerns over changes that will definitely NOT take place. Dispel any and all unnecessary fears. Assure them that successful procedures will not be altered in any way (why would it? They work!).

Use a Timeline/Map

Too much change all at once can wreak havoc. Implement major change slowly over time if possible. Make that timeline available to everyone so they can see exactly what will change and when.

Personally Introduce New Managers

Whenever bringing in someone new to take over a management position, you need to personally introduce them to the rest of the staff. Discuss their background and qualifications, yes, but also the intangibles that they bring to the company. Express excitement, trust, and confidence in them publicly. Talk about new ideas and initiatives that they want to implement - slowly and over time - to make everyone’s job that much easier and more productive.

Open Channels for Feedback

This step is very important, but often overlooked. While the staff may not have any direct effect on hiring and promotion per se, those decisions do affect them. They deserve a channel for expressing opinions about it, offering constructive criticism during the transition (as well as praise), and even complaining about it. Open a channel for that. Make it known that any staff member can confidentially speak to you (or someone else assigned to act as intermediary) about the change - before, during, and after.

Employees want (and deserve) to feel that they have a voice in matters that concern them. So give them one. It goes a long way.  

Change is going to happen. At home. At work. By taking a proactive approach, though, you can help to smooth it along at all stages. Your employees will thank you.


Image: iStock




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