Getting Everyone Onboard the Change Train Before It Pulls Out Of the Station

Business Edge-smart growth strategies-marcia[su_dropcap style=”flat”]C[/su_dropcap]HANGE CREATES uncertainty for employees about their job, their responsibilities and their livelihood. No matter the kind of change or the extent of the change, it is crucial that leaders communicate with employees early, widely and often.

When the change message is not well-defined and well presented, people tend to respond with resistance: sitting on the fence, dragging their feet or even worse sabotaging the change effort. Suddenly milestones are not met, customers are upset and shareholders start pounding on your door for better results. To lessen the employee resistance and increase their commitment to the change, utilize this:

Five Steps Change Communicating Model:

  1. Obtain the many facts surrounding the change.

This is not the time to “wing it”. You must be very clear about the big picture as well as the small details. For example, do you have clarity around these questions?

  • What’s changing and what isn’t? What’s going to change right now and what later?
  • What’s the time frame? What other important details do I need to reassure my staff?
  • Is their information I either don’t know or can’t share with my staff? How will I handle this?
  1. Decide when and how to communicate the news.
  • The timing of the communication is very important. Consider when you are at your best as a communicator and when your employees are most apt to be receptive.
    What is the best time to talk with your staff? What key people need to be there?
  • How much lead time is necessary between the announcement and the actual change?
  • What is the most effective way to communicate? Is it in a town meeting; small groups or one-on-one; in a memo; email or video; some other ways or all the above?
  1. Explain the details clearly and confidently.

In many companies, staff are notified of decisions but are not told the why, who, what, when, where and how. If they don’t understand the reasons, if they see no plan, and if they think it won’t work, then what happens is a lack of enthusiasm and commitment for the change. Here’s what you need to communicate.

  • The “Why” – The reasons for the change.
  • The “What” – Specifically what is changing and what is not
  • The “How” – The plan of action for the change.
  • The “When”– the timeframe.
  1. Identify and communicate the benefits of the change.

Once the reality sets in – the change is going to happen – then focus on the positives of the change. Figure out the “WIIFM” (What’s In It For Me) for each of your staff people or teams. A younger employee may relate to the extensive training that will accompany the change while one nearing retirement may not see that as a benefit at all.

  • What are the benefits of the change for your team or department and for the company?
  • Think of your staff people. What is the “WIIFM” for each of them to get on board?
  • Also, look at the benefits for you? What’s your “buy-in” for the change?
  1. Finally, anticipate and address their concerns.

When a manager announces a change, a staff person’s first concern is “How is it going to affect me?” Recognize that while the change is beneficial and needed, there may be legitimate problems and downsides to the change. Too often managers do not want to discuss the downsides or challenges. Resistance increases when this happens because to employees it feels like management does not care or is out of touch with reality. So determine ahead of time:

  • What questions might be asked and concerns voiced about the change?
  • How might you answer their questions and concerns honestly yet with optimism?
  • How much control do they have over how the change is made? What’s negotiable? What’s not

[su_box title=”SMART MOVES TIP” style=”glass” box_color=”#2f598a”]The key to employee coaching is giving effective feedback. Feedback is information about performance that leads to the person changing poor performance or continuing good performance. There are two major types of feedback: Corrective – which is intended to be problem solving. It lets people know what should be improved and how to make the improvement. Its purpose is to help the person perform better the next time Positive – which is intended to be encouraging. It lets people know what they’ve done well and recognizes or rewards them for it. Its purpose is to motivate the person to maintain or even increase the performance.[/su_box]

As a leader, what have you done to lessen employee resistance and increase their commitment to the change initiatives that are taking place in your organization? How do you get your people to, not only go through the motions, but also actually “buy into” the changes that are necessary?

My Motto Is: 
If you do what you always did, you will get what you always got. Therefore, MOVE outside of your comfort zone; that’s where the MAGIC happens.” To bring that magic to your leadership and business, subscribe to Marcia’s monthly Execubrief: Business Edge- Smart Growth Strategies with insights, inspiration and intelligence on how to build great businesses that matter- those that do well and do good.

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Marcia Zidle
Marcia Zidle
Marcia Zidle, The Smart Moves Coach, is a national known board certified coach and keynote leadership speaker who guides organizations that are planning, or in the midst of, ambitious growth and change. As a career strategist, she works with professionals, managers and executives who want to build • shape • brand • change • vitalize their careers. She’s been selected by LinkedIn’s ProFinder as one of the best coaches for 2016!Her clients range from private owned businesses to mid-market companies to professional service firms to NGO’s. With 25 years of management, business consulting and international experience, she brings an expertise in executive and team leadership; employee engagement and innovation; personal and organization change; career building and development; emotional and social intelligence. Your Future Starts Now With Marcia!

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