We’ve been doing a lot of programs on change management lately. Here’s a piece I wrote for the Southeast Wisconsin ASTD newsletter.
Leaders don’t set out to do a bad job helping employees handle change. But you’d be surprised at how often they end up doing just that. Here’s how to insure that you fail miserably:
- Explain it once and be done with it. Whether it’s a merger, a reorganization, or a change in work assignments, tell people – then drop the subject. They heard you. Why go over it again and again?
- Use vague terminology. Don’t be specific about what will change. Use clichés like “quality driven” and “flatter organizational structure.” Make sure only top managers know the details.
- Don’t talk about the purpose behind change. Employees wouldn’t understand, anyway. Besides, they want to keep their jobs, so they’ll just do as they’re told.
- Dismiss people’s feelings. They’re overreacting. Nobody promised them a rose garden. Change is coming, and there’s nothing they can do about it. If you ignore all that messy emotion, it will go away.
- Disregard the past. No matter how things worked before, it’s over now. The new ways will be better; why else would top management have come up with them? Insist that people focus only on the future. They’ll soon forget their sense of loss.
- Don’t answer questions. People will come up with their own ideas about what’s going to happen. Let them – it will keep them busy during the transition. And crazy rumors keep people on their toes.
- Don’t allow doubt or confusion. Make everybody get with the program. Isolate those who seem depressed, before they bring everybody else down.
- Pile on the changes. Before people get too settled in the new ways, change something else. Why not? Everybody’s used to constant shocks by now. A few more won’t matter.
Have you or your organization ever handled change this way? What were the results?