Everything changes. All of us experience change in both our private and professional lives. As managers it is important to recognize that change can be difficult for anyone depending on what the change entails. But in any case, change is never easy. However, change can be managed effectively so difficulties can be minimized. Unfortunately in reality, change is not managed very well!
More often than not, managers first attempt to convince their subordinates of all the benefits of the change. Yet, the impact and reason for the change is the last concern people have about change. Managers who want to do a better job managing change need to perform three other steps first.
The first step in the sequence to manage change is to address your subordinates’ information concerns about the change. Specifically, explain to your subordinates what you want to do or have been instructed to do, why it is needed, what is wrong with the status quo, and when the change will take place. When subordinates have lingering information concerns, they do not want to be sold on the change rather they want to understand it.
The next step is to address the personal concerns of subordinates. The manager has to be specific as to how the change will affect them. For instance, will the change require them to learn the operation of a new piece of equipment, learn a new software program, learn a new diagnostic procedure, produce a new report, etc. Managers need to reassure their subordinates that they have the capability to learn the required change and that they are vital to change process. Most importantly, managers need to emphasize that subordinate’s position in the organization is not in jeopardy of being eliminated as a result of the change.
The last step is concerned with implementation matters and requires a manager to explain what comes first, second, third and so on. The explanation helps to ensure that the change is implemented properly. Managers need to encourage and support subordinates during the implementation phase of the change. Managers can explain the desired impact and necessity of the change after the completion of this step.
It is important to be aware that people react to change differently. Emotions are always involved. Refrain from telling your subordinates how they should feel about the change. It is important to remember that change signifies something new and that people will need time to become accustomed to the change. The manager’s job is to clearly communicate information about the change; i.e., the what, why, when, and how of the change. Following these steps will help make changes easier to accept and implement.