How to help your employees feel peaceful about change
When was the last time your company stood still for you? No changes in personnel. No changes in materials, products, services, or distribution channels. No changes in strategy.
As a leader, have you ever experienced a period of “no change?”
When you Google “change management,” you get 75.2 million results. This indicates that moving people through change is an ongoing challenge for leaders. A formidable challenge. It doesn’t have to be. You can learn to lay a foundation that will support your team to always approach change with feelings of calm and peace.
The word peace comes from the Latin pax, meaning “compact, treaty, agreement.” Here are five agreements your team needs to hear from you (and see you deliver upon) so that they may feel peace in their hearts as change unfolds:
1. I will never let change be the “elephant in the room.”
Typically, leaders wait too long to talk with their team members about changes the company is undergoing. This is understandable. As the leader, you feel like it’s your responsibility to “handle” the change, and not burden team members with worrying about it.
But, here’s the truth. People know when their environment is shifting. They can feel it. Changes that you may think are subtle probably aren’t. Team members observe them and immediately assign meaning to them. Often, this meaning may not be accurate, causing needless stress in their hearts and undermining their peace of mind.
Don’t let change be the elephant in the room – the thing that everyone’s thinking about, but no one is acknowledging. Your workplace is a second home for your employees. They need and want to know what’s going on under their own roof!
2. I will always explain why change must occur now.
No one expects their job to stay the same forever. People know that change is a given in all parts of life and that they’ve got to learn and develop in order to keep up.
Still, it’s hard to feel calm and peaceful while your workplace is transforming when you don’t know why it’s transforming. Give your people this understanding. Paint a picture of the marketplace demands, technological advances, and industry economics that are driving your company’s need for change.
Open up channels of communication, so that you can answer questions and ease the doubts and fears that are eroding peace in your workplace. When you do this, you will be surprised at the positive communication that flows back your way.
You’ll get fresh perspective. You’ll hear front-line ideas to improve productivity that people have wanted to act on for years. Through erasing uncertainty, you’ll not only help instill calm and peace; you’ll open a door of opportunity for every single person in your organization.
3. I will always be transparent about the potential impacts of change.
Change is not all sunshine and roses. There are risks. Everyone knows this.
So don’t sugarcoat the change your company is going through. You can be honest. Not only can your employees handle your honesty—they crave it. They can’t feel peace in their hearts without it.
If there is a chance that people may need to learn new skills in order to keep their jobs, tell them that. If there is a chance that the company may need to downsize in order to survive, be transparent about this potential outcome.
Again, your workplace is your employee’ second home. They spend more time there than in their “real” home. Please honor this. Respect it. Give people the facts, so that they can make their own thoughtful decisions about how to manage the risks they face. It’s impossible for people to feel blindsided and peaceful at the same time.
4. I will always support everyone in this organization to land on their feet on the other side of change.
We’ve all heard the horror stories of mass lay offs without notice or support. We’ve also heard about the 55 year-olds forced into early retirement and replaced with younger, cheaper, more tech-savvy replacements. These are glaring examples of organizations treating people like assets instead of human beings as change unfolds.
Yet, what about the less-glaring examples? The teams that get fragmented, the projects that get derailed, and the people who struggle to understand their roles on the other sid e of change?
You know that as a servant leader, you have a higher standard as you navigate transitions. It’s not just the new production line, the new software, or the new market entrance that’s important. It’s the well being of your people. Their peace of mind is the true measure of your change effort’s success.
Make the promise that you will do everything in your power to help people land on their feet—no matter what. Deliver on that promise. Demonstrate this level of servant leadership, and you will lay a foundation of deep peace and calm in your company that will endure even during gut-wrenching change.
5. I will always do my best to chart our change journey.
Are we there yet?
If you’re a parent, you’ve heard this a million times. And if you’re a leader, you’ve said it to yourself as often, especially during periods of transition.
You may not know when the specific change that you and your employees are going through will be “over.” That’s OK. No one expects you to know everything. But they do need you to help them track progress and share what you think may be ahead.
This you can do!
You can even do this visually, with a timeline, a chart, or a photo slideshow of challenges you’ve overcome and change-related milestones you and your team have achieved, together. Creating a visual representation of your change effort and putting it in a place of prominence will serve your employees, the majority of whom are visual learners.
Fear springs from not knowing
Each of the five agreements in this post are designed to provide knowledge, liberate people from fear, and allow peace and calm to flow through your organization.
When peace flows, people relax. They allow themselves to be themselves; re-engaging with their creativity and enthusiasm. They remember how resilient they really are.
When people aren’t saddled with fear, they face change with confidence and quiet strength.
The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace. —Psalm 29:11
In your organization, change isn’t on the horizon; it’s happening right now. Are you ready to extend the five promises above to your employees, to help them feel peaceful and calm within their ever-shifting environment?
Peacemakers who sow in peace reap a harvest of righteousness —James 3:18
Photo source: istock
Mark Deterding is the founder and principal of Triune Leadership Services, LLC. In 2011 he formed Triune Leadership Services to follow his passion of working with leaders to help them develop core servant leadership capabilities that allow them to lead at a higher level and enable them to achieve their God-given potential.
Mark has authored two books – Leading Jesus’ Way, and A Model of Servant Leadership.
As an executive coach and servant leadership development consultant he specializes in working with high-performing professionals to develop their capabilities and achieve their objectives. Working with organizations, leadership teams, and executives one-on-one, he helps bring focus, clarity, and action to make things work.
Prior to Triune Leadership Services he worked for 35 years in the printing industry holding senior leadership positions at Taylor Corporation, RR Donnelly, and Banta Corporation. He is an accomplished executive with a proven track record for developing purpose-driven; values based teams that drive culture improvement, enhance employee passion, and improve business results. He is featured in Ken Blanchard’s book “Leading at a Higher Level”, and he has been a featured speaker for the Ken Blanchard Companies Executive Forum in both 2007 and 2011. He regularly speaks to organizations and executive forums on the principles of servant leadership and how to practically apply it to their lives.
In addition to his duties at Triune Leadership Services, Mark also serves on the Board of Directors for the Unity Foundation in Alexandria, MN, for Mt. Carmel Ministries in Alexandria, MN, and NorthStar Christian Academy in Alexandria, MN.
He is married to his wife Kim, and they have two sons, two lovely daughter-in-laws, and three wonderful grandchildren.
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