Avoiding a survival instinct in your staff during periods of change will help your organisation thrive under any new changes the organisation needs to make. This is often ignored, and is the focus of this article.

Eric Vigo

Managing Director and Founder of Rebooter Group

Originally authored by

KEY TAKEAWAYS

1. Embrace a positive mindset

2. Communicate openly

3. Adapt and be flexible

4. Collaborate and support others 

5. Seek out learning opportunities

6. Stay resilient and persistent

The ability of management to acknowledge their staff’s contributions and incorporate them is crucial for an effectively run organisation.

This ability enables leaders to be creative and promote ongoing innovation and organisational change (Kark, 2011)1.

Both transformational and servant leadership styles share essential for good change management, which involves activating visionary thinking without blocking, building trust in all those around. This is the bedrock of employee engagement.

According to research by Gartner2, the top three priorities for HR leaders in 2021 were “building critical skills and competencies,” “organisational design and change management,” and “building current and future leadership bench.

Just Because Organisations Push Change Doesn't Make Employees Follow Suit

Organisational change is often imposed from high up. This presenting challenges for management and potentially pushes employees into survival mode, which stifles creativity. This is evident in instances of staff layoffs. Layoffs that are executed swiftly, clearly, and transparently can maintain a sense of security for staff. Conversely, layoffs that are erratic, seemingly arbitrary, and non-transparent erode loyalty and trigger fight-or-flight responses, tarnishing the organisation’s reputation. The same holds true for change management: fears arise regarding task, position, or status security, and this necessitates strategic planning for seamless implementation. Without it, you cause unneeded fear, worry and a scramble for the exits. Which is not, as far as I can see, a KPI on a manager’s mind. 

Ways Through to a Smooth Change Management Process

There are six strategies employers can bring in to navigate these transitions successfully. While many of these are known, we intend to add an extra element to provide a more comprehensive understanding of how to make this work. Often, it involves minimising negative actions that may lead staff to feel.

1. Embrace a positive mindset

Approaching change with a positive attitude and a willingness to learn and grow is essential. Embrace the opportunity to develop new skills and take on new challenges. Resistance and discomfort often hinder progress but do not necessarily indicate an unwillingness to change. Gradual implementation of change allows for adjustment, and leadership support during this adjustment process significantly contributes to smooth transition.

2. Communicate openly

Engage in open and honest communication with managers and colleagues. Share concerns, ideas, and suggestions for navigating the change. Active listening and clear communication build trust and foster a collaborative environment. If communication challenges exist within the organisation, begin by focusing on areas with high communication frequency and low-stakes decisions, then gradually expand. Build it up slowly.

3. Adapt and be flexible

Be open to adapting to new processes, technologies, and ways of working. Flexibility and a willingness to learn are crucial for thriving in a changing environment. Like our bodies, some parts flow smoothly while others are tense and prone to getting stuck. Identifying areas where the organisation lacks flexibility is essential for addressing these challenges.

4. Collaborate and support others

Work collaboratively with colleagues to navigate change. Offer support and encouragement to those who may be struggling. A strong team dynamic helps everyone weather the storm and emerge stronger. The level of investment the organisation makes in supporting others influences the effectiveness of this strategy.

5. Seek out learning opportunities

Take advantage of training and development opportunities offered by the organisation. Attend workshops, enroll in online courses, or seek mentorship to develop the skills needed for success in the new environment. If the organisation is hesitant to invest in training, involving the CFO and their team in the selection process for training organisations may be beneficial.

6. Stay resilient and persistent

Change can be challenging, but resilience and persistence are crucial for weathering the storm. If resilience is not a prevalent skill among staff, consider implementing strategies to foster resilience, such as celebrating small wins, providing clarity on the bigger picture, and shifting leadership language to include terms like ‘thrive.’

In Summary

By embracing these strategies, employees can navigate organisational change with confidence and emerge stronger on the other side. Remember, change presents an opportunity for growth and development. Approaching it with a positive mindset and a willingness to adapt contributes to both organisational success and individual professional growth.

References

Melissa Dinwiddle (2/12/2022), ‘“What do you mean PLAY is good for business, Melissa? Isn’t play the *opposite* of work?”’, Linkedin’
2

ELMO Cloud HR and Payroll (4/2021), ‘Leaders of tomorrow: The skillset of a post-COVID-19 leader’, ELMO Cloud HR and Payroll’, White Paper

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