Change is inevitable, change is continual and, when change is managed properly, it's a good thing. It's a fact that some people handle change better that others. For the owners and managers of kitchen and bath firms, it's important to learn how to manage changes both small and large.
Changes occur in our industry and our businesses every day.
While some or all of these may
be perceived as good, some may be looked at as not so good for a variety of reasons. The job of the boss is to manage these changes to the benefit of the business and the employees.
The two main elements of change are: What exactly is changing, and how do employees deal with the emotional and psychological sense of loss of the old familiar routine? Once a manager understands these elements, he can manage them.
It's no secret that employees have a "sixth sense" regarding changes that are about to happen. It's na've to believe that management can hide upcoming changes. If they do, they're taking the risk of causing an air of uncertainty and suspicion among employees that can lead to counter-productivity, adverse morale, fear and stress.
There are at least five barriers to successful change:
1. Fear, anger and uncertainty (emotion)
2. Failure to see the need for change (perception)
3. Feeling that all change will be negative (attitude)
4. Lukewarm acceptance of change and/or a wait-and-see attitude (reluctance)
5. Failure or refusal to see the positive opportunities inherent in the change (resistance).
Most of these barriers can be overcome if the manager practices these five keys to successful change management:
1. Create an environment of openness. Give people as much information as possible as early as possible. Allow employees to ask questions, and give them straight answers.
2. Function as objectively as possible. Be prepared with as many facts, figures and examples that support the reasons why a change is necessary and beneficial.
3. Be sensitive to subjectivity and emotion. We all live in our own comfort zones and almost automatically reject anything that violates that zone. Above all else, remember that change suggests giving up or losing something that may be important and personal to the employee.
4. Encourage development of alternative perspectives. Encourage employees to find positive ways to accept change. By evaluating as many options as possible, you'll open minds to the potential positive impacts of change.
5. Disconnect and re-establish after the change. It's important
to allow employees time to adjust to the loss of the old and
familiar. Then, it's important to get them focused on the new path,
begin to generate excitement and attain positive goals and
re-establish the new comfort zone.
Some excellent questions and answers to consider in learning to manage change include:
- Why is change necessary? There's no such thing as standing
still in business. You're either moving forward or falling behind.
It may be slow, and you may not notice it on a daily basis, but
it's happening. Change is the catalyst for moving ahead.
- Who is driving change in the workplace? The competitive economy
is fueled by incredible changes in technology. Change is dynamic
and usually initiated by external pressures to stay
- Why does change feel so different? Change has always been
present in business, but in the past, the pace has been much
slower. Now it seems we're bombarded by one change after another
with little time to adjust or catch our breath. This trend isn't
going to "change," so it behooves us to devise ways to accept and
welcome it rather than fight it.
- What do my employees really need to know? When it comes to
change, the more they know early on, the better your chances are of
successfully getting them on board.
Change impacts your life and your employees' lives. It's a disruption that everyone needs to learn to deal with. Keep in mind that when you make the first change, others, often less visible, tend to follow.
- What can I do to accelerate the acceptance of change? Very
often, your attitude, motivation and behavior toward change is
vital to setting the tone for others. If people understand that you
also share their unknowns, but approach them in a positive and
trusting manner, they find it easier to follow your way.
- What are some danger signs that managers should watch out for
in times of change?
Be alert for negative, destructive and out-of-character behaviors such as arguments with other employees, missed deadlines, tardiness, negativism, low energy and a casual attitude toward the quality and quantity of work provided. This is when employee turnover happens.
- What should I do if I see the danger signs? Speak privately
with the employee and let him/her know what you're seeing and that
you are available to listen and help.
- Is all change necessarily good? Of course not. That's why it's important for managers to establish a trusting and open environment in which people can ask questions and get straight answers. By sharing your thoughts and reasons for change with your employees you may very well learn some other options or step back and totally rethink the change. When your employees are part of the thinking process, they will be more inclined to take ownership of the change.
In summary, give employees time to accept the change. You've
known about the change and have had time to adjust your thinking
and attitude. Your employees will need time to adjust and accept
Finally, communicate with your employees on a regular basis. Share everythingthe good and the not so good. When you share with the employees, they'll share with you. Together you can manage change at your business so much better.