Organizational change is inevitable for any business. But as companies grow and employees become accustomed to the people, processes and technology that dictate their day-to-day experiences, they get comfortable. That’s why when the time comes for another organizational shift, you can end up with groups of disgruntled and worried employees who staunchly resist the change and often threaten to stall forward movement.
There’s a psychological reason for this employee backlash. In a social psychology experiment, researchers found the longer something is thought to exist, the better it’s perceived. In short, people have a reliable and tangible preference for things that have been around longer.
While it’s human nature to feel uncomfortable with change, it’s a reality we all deal with. But business leaders can do things to make it easier on employees, and even get them excited about important organizational changes.
Have a Strong Pitch
Communicating what’s happening and what’s changing may happen before or early on in the change process. How you communicate the change will make or break employees’ reaction to the big news.
Make sure you have a persuasive “pitch” that includes a strong and compelling story. It should answer key questions employees are likely to have about …
- Why the change is happening
- How it impacts the business
- Key goals and objectives the change is designed to meet
Additionally, lay out the roadmap or timeline for the change to take place. These insights will give employees a better grasp on the company’s vision and settle any worries about the unknown.
Get Buy-in From the Top Down
If you’re enacting an organizational shift, company leaders most likely already favor the change you’re spearheading. But in addition to getting buy-in from the C-suite, consider looping mid-level leaders into the change plan early on. Gaining support from leaders at different levels in the organization will make your pitch stronger and ensure managers have time to prepare for questions from employees that arise throughout the process.
Communication is key to prevent underlying concerns and gossip about how the change is panning out. Be open and transparent early and often. This includes being clear about what’s going well and what’s not working.
If goals and objectives aren’t met, be specific about what failed throughout the process and what you and other business leaders learned. While it’s difficult to admit failures, this may give employees more confidence. After all, few things teach us as much as our mistakes.
Get Input Along the Way
Last, it’s important for employees to know their feedback and ideas are being acknowledged when voiced. But when it comes to large organizational changes, it can be challenging to collect and address feedback and questions from everyone.
Ensure your change plan incorporates a mechanism or process for gathering input from others (both managers and individual contributors). For example, you could institute a task force within each department to help communicate details of the change and gather feedback at specific inflection points. Or you could set up an internal email alias or collaboration platform where people can submit questions or ideas related to the project. It may also be helpful to make this process anonymous so employees don’t feel nervous providing honest feedback.
Change is key to helping companies innovate and grow, and your employees are the platform for helping any organizational changes take place. Ensuring they’re informed and can provide input throughout the transition are essential in earning their support.
Editor's Note: This post was previously published on Inc.com and has been republished here with permission.