How to Deal With Change in the Workplace

by Richard Highsmith

“The one unchangeable certainty is that nothing is certain or unchangeable” – John F. Kennedy. Teams resist change. Few people in the everyday world of work want the system they are familiar with to become new and unfamiliar. Even when a change improves the function of the organization or makes a process easier, some team members will have to be dragged through the evolution. Here are some suggestions to help your team deal with change in the workplace.

Communication: One of the biggest issues about change is uncertainty. The reasons for the change should be explained in detail. You can be certain doubts exist and questions linger. An atmosphere of open dialog should be created, which allows team members to voice their concerns and ask questions. Failure to allow these worries to be expressed will slow the change process and foster dissention. The team should be addressed as a whole and then appropriate groups created for discussion. It is the listening that is important. When team members don’t feel heard, they lose confidence in their leaders.

Manage the Process: Breaking the team in to smaller groups to plan and/or implement parts of the change is an excellent way to keep everyone involved. If it is possible, introduce the change step by step. Stay in touch with your teammates to learn of any difficulties, which are occurring. If open resistance appears it should be dealt with head on. First listen to determine any justification or possible real problems. If the individual creating the trouble has no concrete reason, deal with it as an attitude problem and counsel accordingly. Finally, be a role model for your teammates. Face the difficulties created by the change and pitch in to work it out. Maintain a positive approach and keep solving the problems until the change goal is reached.

Consider team building: A qualified team building company can assist teams experiencing change. A workshop that focuses on the process of change allows team members to look at what is happening at work in a more detached atmosphere. When the team building company has details of the changes and perceived problems, they can work those issues in to exercises. This type of information can also be used in debriefing the participants about the workshop. For example let’s assume the organization has historically work on projects in a piece meal fashion with different groups responsible for each piece. The change is in the future these groups will be required to work together and take a more holistic approach. The team building company can structure exercises that focus on collaboration, inter-dependency, improving communication and taking a “bigger picture” approach in the workplace. The debrief can go back to the specific changes they are experiencing and tie in what they learned in the workshop.

I’ve heard it said, “Nobody likes change, except a baby.” Following these three steps will make your team’s transition smoother and faster.

About the author

Richard Highsmith, [email protected], is President of Quality Team Building. He has twenty-five years experience training and coaching. He has built and sold two successful businesses. To learn more about becoming a team leader visit our website at []