Sometimes change initiatives are voluntary and sometimes they’re forced upon us. But either way they’re hard. I’m in the middle right now, of a change I initiated myself and even though it’s at my own doing, I’m stressed and off my game. My company is small and making change is hard – so I can only imagine and further empathize with the clients I work with who bring us in during their large change initiatives. When companies reach out to us, it’s to get help with culture. We’re brought in to help people acknowledge their company’s story as it is, and acknowledge how change is…changing things. Through story and songwriting we’re able to provide emotional reinforcement and we bring often needed fun or levity to provide perspective.
But why is this all so hard? It’s hard because all change initiatives bring uncertainty. Employees wonder if they’ll keep their jobs or if they’ll be valued in the same way. They wonder if they’ll enjoy work as much after the change. This uncertainty is triggered by the two main components of change, economics and culture. As a songwriter and purveyor of Team Building Through Song®, I can only speak to ways to support the cultural doubts and changes.
Why Culture Matters
Corporate culture provides foundation for engagement, or the lack thereof. A change initiative needs to address culture to either bring a good culture forward into the future or improve on what exists if needed.
Acknowledge Uncertainty – Don’t make the mistake of glossing over the impact of change. It’s best to acknowledge right away that your workforce will have questions and doubts. The best way to work through this is to allow people to voice those questions and doubts. Make sure people feel like they’re being listened to.
Don’t Lie – If you’re a leader at your company, you realize you can’t share everything with employees. But it’s beneficial to be honest. For example, if not everyone’s job is guaranteed to stay the same, it’s best to acknowledge that. But you can counter honestly by expressing the truth – that change will provide more opportunity and new ways to grow.
Provide Specific Training or Support – Whether you’re simply adopting a new computer system or going through a complete merger, it’s vital to provide training or re-training. Make sure you provide support to allow your current employees to grasp the new stuff. Give them a chance to succeed through change.
Change Initiatives Don’t Have To Be Awful
At the end of the day your change is coming. Make sure to stay out ahead of it, to acknowledge that it’s messy and to set the groundwork for success into the future.