Management is hard. Being in a management role during tumultuous times of change or company uncertainty can create a feeling of isolation or even alienation from your team and can make a management role a very steep hill to climb. But there is hope.
1) BEING TRANSPARENT. Managers can reconnect with their team in a variety of ways, transparency being a great first step. If a company is facing organizational shifts or uncertain times, managers must remember that unexplained changes and uncertainty can really cause worry and stress for truly invested and loyal employees. Employees need transparency in order to know what is going on through the change. This can build stronger trust in their manager, as well as their company, throughout the entire life cycle of the situation.
Communication regarding the changes should come from an email blast or a formal announcement from either HR, the Project Lead, or the VP of the department, which explains the basic nature of the changes and when they will be made apparent. This level of communication tells the employees that their company values them and their involvement and knowledge of the changes. There should also be periodic updates sent out to keep employees abreast of all progress.
Focusing on strong communication through an organizational change is key, as I/O Psychologist Dr. Marla Gottschalk Ph. D. discusses here. In this article she also discusses that organizations need to illustrate how a change will affect their workers’ daily tasks and communicate how the company will change overall, as well as loads of other helpful info. A great read! ( I recommend following her on LinkedIn!)
2) COMMUNICATION. Further, being a listening ear who really hears feedback from employees (aka Active Listening!) is invaluable to his or her team during change. Having an advocate in the employee’s corner amidst confusion and change can truly give employees a sense of safety and trust. When a manager also takes this feed back and tries to invoke change in or influence his or her associate “higher ups”, he or she can really solidify to employees that their feedback, concerns, suggestions are truly being heard.
3) KEEP EMPLOYEE INTERESTS IN MIND. In the face of change, I recommend keeping the employee interests in mind and have that be the driving force in any change or uncertainty a company may experience. Even if an organizational situation may call for lay offs, or hiring, or a merger, or whatever, striving to accommodate the needs, the wishes, and the well-being of its workforce in the face of change speaks volumes to the employees. The PEOPLE are what make up the company. They are an organization’s lifeblood, so putting them first or at the top of the list during organizational operations is key for holding trust and loyalty and future respect.
Dr. Terry Dockery from The Business Psychology Company LLC addresses how managers can approach change in his blog post “Reactive Vs. Proactive Response to Change”. He discusses how management can be reactive or proactive to organizational change (can you predict which method he suggests?) as well as the best methods for keeping the best foot forward while facing imminent change.
Change is very difficult, especially when it will effect workers’ lives. Remember, transparency, communication/active listening, and keeping employee interests in mind are three key ways to manage change.