Generally speaking, people do not like change. And during cycles of radical change, it’s common for people to turn negative. That negativity feeds upon itself. Fear takes over. Gossip and rumor breeds more gossip and rumors. Negativity can easily take over an organization.
Here are four things that can turn a negative atmosphere positive during periods of radical change.
1. Face the change directly.
Don’t try to mask or downplay the change. Face it head on. Explain the reasons the change will be necessary. Explain the discomfort that will be required during the change period. Explain how things will be better in the long-run as a result of the change.
2. Allow people to be heard.
People need to be heard. Design a way for feedback to be given. Assign a senior manager or bring in an outsider who will be responsible for listening. Give people the opportunity to express their concerns, fears, and suggestions.
3. Design a transition period.
Change is disruptive and needs a transition period. It doesn’t have to be long (i.e. months) – in fact, keep it as short as possible (i.e. weeks). But do allow a defined time to allow people to get used to the new system. This will be beneficial for morale and also help people focus forward to the new way of doing things.
4. Revisit after the transition period.
Keeping the lines of communication open is important throughout the process. After the transition period, revisit the change and congratulate everyone on the successes to date. Set new priorities to keep the change momentum moving forward. Acknowledge set-backs and provide new plans and time-frames to complete them.
Your team will get used to a radical change if it’s carried out correctly. Face change directly. Let them be heard. Allow a time period for the transition. Do a re-cap after the transition period. Congratulate and thank them. Use the new momentum to move forward with additional changes. Encourage team members who have stepped forward to be change-makers and leaders. Identify any laggards or change disruptors and get them on-board or off-board them.
Finally, make change a part of the culture so that regular, ongoing change becomes the norm and radical change becomes unnecessary.