7 questions to help you manage change and keep your employees happy

Australian rugby star Dan Vickerman took his own life in February 2017 after struggling with the “transition from sport to everyday life”.

Shockingly, a survey of 800 retired professional sportspeople in 2018 found that a massive 50% of them were worried about their mental health since they stopped competing.

Unfortunately, I’ve witnessed similar feelings in employees I have worked with during periods of intense change. Although most don’t suffer the same anxiety as retiring sportspeople, there’s no doubt change can be traumatic and can significantly affect employee engagement and employee performance.

Change is everywhere you look, as well as in places you’ve overlooked.

We often fail to notice that so many of our interactions involve change.

For example, a lot of sales and marketing activity involves trying to persuade people to make some kind of change, be that a change of supplier, to change their way of working or change their behaviour.

Consider HR activity: employee appraisals involve challenging how people work and introducing changes to enhance employee performance; training courses often require people to change some aspect of their work.

Consider IT: switching CRM systems can be a huge change and result in new processes for your marketing team to follow; new security measures mean changing how you log into the system. Change can cause negative feelings such as frustration, loss of control, and demand a lot of patience to see it through and adjust.

And so it goes on. Change is everywhere. Some of it is significant; some of it is less so. The challenge for business leaders is to recognise when we need to manage the most significant changes so that our employees embrace them.

A model for effectively driving change in your business

You may have heard of Kurt Lewin’s model of change management, Forcefield Analysis.

The basic idea is this: a business, its culture and processes are in equilibrium. Any change to that equilibrium is affected by opposing forces: driving forces (that are trying to make change happen) and restraining forces (that are trying to stop it).

Lewin argues that if the driving forces are stronger than the restraining forces, then change will happen.

But change is painful, as we’ve already seen. So it helps to have a process that makes it easier for people to come with you on that journey.

There are various models for change management out there. But here is our 7-question framework you can use today, by yourself or with your senior team.

  1. What change do you want to see?
    • What is your vision or goal?
    • Why do you want to do it?
  2. What are the pros of this change?
    • What’s the incentive?
    • What’s in it for you? For your senior execs? For your team?
  3. What are the cons?
    • What’s the likely comment from the office sceptic?
    • What are the drawbacks?
    • What emotions might the change tap into (fear, anger, disgust, sadness)?
  4. What are the most important pros and cons? Rank them in order of importance on each side of the paper. You could score them in importance out of 10.
  5. How do you address the cons?
    • What can you do to make people feel safe, confident or reassured about the cons?
  6. Can you ‘big up’ the pros?
    • How can you emphasise the importance of the positive aspects of the change?
    • Can you link some kind of reward to the successful change?
  7. How do you put it into action?
    • What’s the plan?
    • What’s your timeline?
    • How do you communicate the change inside and outside the company?

Being mindful of change can supercharge your growth

How often have you suggested a new change in your business only for it to be shot down in flames by the office sceptics, cynics and gossips?

I think we could all be more mindful that change is painful, that change is everywhere and that a more considered approach will give us better results.

If you recognise the changes likely to meet with most resistance, you can apply this framework to help your people cope with it better. To me, that’s a recipe for a more engaged workforce, a growing business and better mental health for all your employees.

Effective communication always helps. Check out our blog Communication is key! Open your mind with NLP.

Your action plan

Our top three takeaways are:

  1. Add ‘big changes’ to your exec team agenda.
  2. Work through the 7-step framework for each ‘big change’.
  3. Create an action plan for each big change you wish to make.

Try out our framework, and let us know how you get on.

For further help on making successful changes in your business, check out another one of our blogs entitled How to drive positive change in your business.

If you have any questions about our blog content, please get in touch by emailing hello@reclaro.com. We’d love to hear from you.

Posted by Pete Wilkinson

Last updated: 19 November 2021

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