One of my favorite motivational posters states,
“If you are not riding the wave of change, you will find yourself beneath it.”
In the world we live in, change is inevitable and, as HR professionals, we are constantly dealing with it and the effects on our workforce. In my experience I find that people have the same reaction whether the change is positive or negative. More often than not conclusions are formed, rumors are spread and morale takes a hit.
The next time you find yourself communicating change in the workplace, take the following into consideration to ensure transitions go as smoothly as possible.
Communicate the information at the right time. While working at my first job in HR the company announced there would be layoffs and affected employees would be notified right away. Fast forward one month later and nobody had heard another word on the subject. While the company was sorting through everything that comes with a layoff, employees were updating and getting their resumes out and growing more frustrated by the day. Whether they had intended to or not, the company now had a disengaged workforce on their hands.
Wait until you have all pertinent information before making an announcement of that sort, or ensure you do follow up in a time frame consistent to what was conveyed. You may think you are doing the right thing by giving people notice far in advance, but you could just be adding to the anxiety.
Hold follow up meetings as an opportunity for employees to ask questions.No matter how well you communicate the change at hand there will most likely be questions. Employees may be intimidated to ask the question individually, so consider holding a meeting so that they may pose their questions in a group setting. Also, chances are if one person has the question then others do too, and this is an excellent way to keep the workforce from jumping to their own conclusions.
Check in to ensure the changes you made are on track. The news has been communicated, you’ve put any rumors to rest, so now what? Make it a point to check in 30 days, 6 months or one year down the road. Is the change you intended happening as it should? Have employees slipped back to the old way of doing things? Make sure the change is having the desired effect.
Remember, change is inevitable and it’s up to us as HR professionals and leaders to do what we can to make it go as smoothly as possible. What have you done to stay on top of the wave?
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