Navigating change is never easy. This applies to employers and employees. Why? Because change brings a new way of doing, being, and or relating that may challenge the confidence and competence of all stakeholders. The fear of change is called Misoneism.
“Getting on or off the bus” is a term used to describe whether those affected by the change, support it or not. When done well, change management invites great communication, consultation, and an openness to learning…however frightening the process may be. This is noted as ‘’getting on the bus”. When integrated poorly, change may result in frustration, distrust, and fractured workplace culture which may have employee implications of “getting off the bus”.
Why change management?
The Peter Principle stipulates “In spite of warnings, nothing much happens until the status quo becomes more painful than change” (Peter & Hull, 1996). The reality is that we live in a dynamic and constantly changing world. We need to accept that change is an ongoing phenomenon. The cycle of change begins with the pressure for change. Economic, political, and social factors are examples of pressures that command change (Cole, 2019).
What is a key factor that underpins change management?
Communication (amongst other factors) is critical to mitigating change effectively. Communication is needed to explain the ‘why’ of change, the approach to change as well as the time it will take, and the steps involved for change to become the norm within the organisation. When communication is ineffective, people responding to change may be criticised and stereotyped as the road blocker; the passive complier; the delayer, or the traditionalist just to name a few. Leaders initiating the change process are encouraged to honour people’s concerns about how the change may inevitably impact them and the options available to them.
In times of change, positional power may override the humble employee voice. Leaders must take the time to listen to all stakeholders. Sometimes gems of great wisdom and intellect may be shared for the greater good of the organisation that had not been previously thought about (Haesler, 2021).
It takes a courageous, authentic, and curious leader to truly understand and effectively work with staff. Again, I reiterate that change management is not an easy process however in addition to effective communication, empathy, support, and opportunities for closure are considerations for assisting employees to get on or off the bus.
Are you on or off the change management bus?