If you were not already aware, I am a student. I am a full-time business student at Missouri Southern State University studying Marketing and Management. With Management as a second major it is required that I take management classes. Currently, I am in a quality management course where we talk about, well, quality management. Our lectures for the past couple weeks have been on implementing new quality control systems and how to read your employees to determine when they are ready for change.
The most important part of change is communication. Having an open line of communication between employees and managers is beyond important, it’s essential. Without conversation about change and being open to talk about the potential benefits and hardships of what is about to happen, employees won’t feel apart of the change and that is the last thing you want. You want everyone to be aware of changes taking place and not feel left in the dark. The simple act of conversation can save you a lot of trouble down the road. This doesn’t mean you need to consult subordinates on important change decisions, just give them a heads up when it’s coming. This will let them feel like they are a part of the conversation and it will build trust among the organization.
An established trust between employees and supervisors is the next indicator of company readiness for change. Without faith in leadership and believing that they have their employee’s best interest at heart, it is hard to get people to follow you into change. This isn’t something that is gained overnight; it takes time and effort (more so on the supervisor) to build. If you know change is coming in the next year or so, you should already have or should start building trust among the company.
The last is to take the responsibility and consequences of change onto your shoulders and not put the pressure of failure or success on your employees. Communication, trust, and good leadership are all a part of this. You need to keep the dialog open with employees about what’s working and what’s not. Get the opinion of those actually making the changes, this doesn’t mean you always have to take their advice, but give them a chance to share their perspective. If the trust is there, subordinates will trust that you are looking at change from all angles and will make the best decision for all parties involved. Good leadership is key in all areas of change. Leaders aren’t afraid to take the high road and lead by example. This can sometimes mean losing a customer or employee. Most likely, though, if you lose someone to a thought out and ethically sound decision, your company is better off without him or her.
Change can be a rocky time for companies and leaders who haven’t put in the legwork to create an atmosphere of openness and trust. For those who have, trust your instincts, talk to your employees and lead by example.