Organisational Change? Simple Ways to Reduce the Fear Factor

Change evokes strong emotions. It can be liberating and exciting, creating new opportunities. For the most part, however, the prospect of change in an organizational context often creates anxiety, fear and distrust. As a manager, introducing and managing organizational change can be one of the most difficult things you will have to do in your…

Change evokes strong emotions. It can be liberating and exciting, creating new opportunities. For the most part, however, the prospect of change in an organizational context often creates anxiety, fear and distrust. As a manager, introducing and managing organizational change can be one of the most difficult things you will have to do in your professional life. But there are some simple steps you can take to reduce the fear factor and lower the level of emotion.

Stay visible. This is not the time to hide away behind closed office doors or in conference rooms. Close your office door only when completely unavoidable. Greet people in the morning, say goodnight, walk the floor, go to the coffee machine, use the staff canteen. Your staff need you to stay as normal as possible even if they are secretly throwing darts at your image on a dart board.

Communicate, communicate, communicate. Do not fall into the trap of thinking that if you do not have all the answers it's best not to say anything. This is the worst approach you could take. Your staff need to hear from you. Little and often is best. If you can, keep it personal and call a short floor meeting. If not a short and simple email will be fine. If you do not have the answers say so up front, do not prevaricate. And do not waffle, over-complicate or use “management speak”. If the organization is having to structure because you're losing money or you've lost a contract or a major funder, be up front about it.

Delivering bad news to an employee is hard. Even the most experienced managers dread it. Make sure you are as prepared as possible. There will be questions – “Why me?” “How did you make the selection?” What's my redundancy payment going to be? “There may be accusations -” It's just because I'm the only woman. “Or sometimes revelations -” I've just found out I'm pregnant “,” My partner's just lost his job “If you do not have all the answers, tell them when you will be able to answer. And do not be thrown off course by accusations and revelations. the meeting but stand by your decision.

Consider using an independent change management specialist. Someone from outside of the organization can be more dispassionate and is not going to get talked up in the politics of the organization. Also do not forget you still have a business to manage during all the upheaval. Can you manage your business and manage significant change at the same time without dropping the ball?