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Know how: Preparing your organization for change means preparing people


By Hollis Thomases
Guest columnist

Organizations today face constant, ever-accelerating change, which places persistent pressures on leadership. In the effort to keep up, strategies get discussed and decisions get made that often don’t ever involve the employees who will ultimately have to carry them out.

The problem with this approach, however, is that people don’t like change. In fact, in resisting, people can sabotage your organization’s effort to advance. To avoid these challenges, consider employing change readiness.

Change readiness is a precursor to change management. It is a means to help prepare your organization – its workforce in particular – for the change you intend on carrying out. Most people have never been taught how to change.

So what if you could change your employees’ feelings about your impending change? To make it more fun – or at least a premeditated learning experience – rather than a problem to overcome?

Here are a few quick tips to help prepare your workforce for change:

“¢ Encourage a mental exercise to help people catch themselves in the act of saying an immediate “no” and instead replace it with a “yes” (or even a “what if” or “maybe”) and to dwell on the possibilities the mind will play out. Ask them to imagine those possibilities in the workplace and practice this exercise daily.

“¢ Get buy-in. So may business discussions revolve around getting leadership buy-in, but when it comes to change, it’s important to get early workforce buy-in. Talk to your employees about your purpose/objective/plan, ask them questions, listen to their responses, and bring them into the fold of your rationale.

“¢ Distribute risk. Many people are risk-averse, especially on the job. Reduce the fear of failure by owning the team blame upfront if things don’t work out.

“¢ Gamify it. To help reduce the friction of change, be creative. Come up with a contest or reward system to help encourage workers to implement and adopt the changes you want to instill.

“¢ Reinforce it. Even the best of intentions fall off over time. Establish realistic benchmarks and stretch goals that can help you hold people accountable to themselves, each other, and the organization as you migrate through a change.

Making even small strides in this direction will show your workforce that you care about their success as well as the organization’s, and that can go a long way towards improving everyone’s willingness to participate in the change that’s to come.

Hollis Thomases helps organizations succeed at digital transformation by facilitating at the stakeholder gaps
between technology implementation and workforce adoption and utilization.


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