Finding the right mindset for change is crucial to succeeding in today’s age of disruption. Know the top strategies to help employees deal with change in the workplace.

Change is inevitable…

We live in an era where every industry is undergoing dramatic changes, faster than it has ever happened before.

To put things in perspective — Gartner reports that most organizations have undergone five major firmwide changes in the last three years. That’s not all, over 75% of organizations are looking to increase their share of major change initiatives in the next three years.

In my experience over the years, I have come to see that organizational change often sends a strong message across the workplace, inducing ripple effects among employees. It’s times like these where the employees’ trust is put to a test.

Unstable economic conditions like that of a global pandemic often result in organizational changes — changes that must be implemented quickly. In other cases, large-scale changes such as mergers and acquisitions are kept confidential until the contracts are signed. The speculations that arise from such situations, trigger anxiety and may even elicit paralyzing levels of panic and fear among employees.

What is the best approach to cope with change in the workplace?

Helming the organization during major change initiatives can be a tall order.

When the world sank into an economic downturn due to COVID-19, corporate leaders needed to ensure that their employees fully bought into the change initiatives that were proposed for their well-being and safety. We all know that this was no easy feat.

The onus is on the leadership team to ensure change management is approached with a well-defined strategy and a great level of empathy. Failing to do so, can turn out to be a costly affair.

Change-affected employees who are stressed and upset become inert and are known to be less productive.

Source: Gartner

What we need to understand here is that employees crave constancy and clarity. In the event of organizational change, we often see a good portion of employees resisting the change — this may be due to their concerns about how these workplace changes will affect them.

It’s crucial to empathize with employees during the process of change, especially at times like these, when their belief systems are altered. Understand the emotions that employees experience at every stage and support them through the transition. An organizational change does not happen overnight. It takes time, more importantly — it takes a lot of effort and patience.

Focus on the positive: Steps to create an organizational change that sticks

Here are my top 4 tips on helping employees deal with organizational change, in a positive way:

  1. Set the narrative straight
    Communicate openly about the changes that you want to make and leave no room for confusion or doubt. Organizational change should not be treated as a top-driven mandate that needs to be cascaded to employees as a bunch of strict rules and guidelines. Set a clear and positive narrative and get everyone on board the change process — employees should join in on the process of creating a positive vision for the future.
  2. Take out the guesswork and address the challenges
    Avoid being vague about the changes that need to be implemented — this will only make matters worse. Talk about how changes will be made, address employee pain points, set milestones, timelines, and expectations.
  3. Reward early adopters
    It’s important to evaluate employees’ readiness to change. Recognize and reward early adopters — check back with them to see what made them come on board with the organizational changes. This exercise will help you make it easier for other employees to be more open to change.
  4. Constant and honest communication is the key
    Establish a regular communication channel to keep everyone in the organization updated about the changes made. As leaders, we need to create avenues for honest, transparent communication that will help in building trust in the workplace.

Navigating change: Going from resistance to acceptance

The way leaders in an organization respond to change can have a significant impact on the employees. There’s no escaping change, it is disruptive in nature and at times even unsettling. Having said that, adopting a positive and inclusive approach to change has proved to be rewarding in more ways than one.

Dr. Dean Bartles President & CEO, MTDG, makes a strong point with this tweet!

Parting thoughts — creating a nimble and collaborative organizational culture is pivotal to leverage change successfully.

Follow me on LinkedIn to stay on top of the latest news and updates from the financial services industry.

T M Praveen is a highly accomplished global payments leader with over 20 years of experience. A veteran in the payments industry, Praveen has immense wealth of insights to share in payments innovations, emerging technologies, FinTech, and financial services.

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