3 Organizational Change Approaches to Reduce Fear

One by one, the letters F, E, A, R are pushied off a cliff

The best leaders know how to introduce and communicate organizational changes. They rely upon fine-tuned empathy with their employees to launch an organizational change initiative in a way that is well received. Less empathetic leaders seem to dictate change in a way that drives their employees to think of change as being as fearful as falling off a cliff.

Employees typically experience anxiety as a normal and rational reaction to any change that they imagine could rock their world. Leaders who plan a change need to take this into account and plan a change management strategy for communication and implementation that encompasses the lessons we have learned in our twenty-plus years of change management consulting.

To “do organizational change right,” leaders need to:

  • Communicate change in a way that inspires commitment not rejection.
    Understand that, regardless of how great the change is, you will face some resistance. Plan your change announcement very carefully. You need to find a judicious balance between articulating what will be gained and acknowledging what will be lost. Your message needs to motivate and inspire. You want your workers to understand the risks and rewards of the change because without their full commitment and support, your plan for change will fall far short of your hopes. The overall message, however, needs to highlight why the change is necessary, what the new destination looks like, the plan to get from where you are today to where you want to be in the future, the role you expect people to play along the way, and the benefits of the change at the organizational, team and individual levels. 

  • Continue to motivate even while progress is made.Organizational change is not easy. It takes perseverance and patience. Beware of flagging commitment to the end game. Your message of understanding, encouragement and dedication will need to be reinforced throughout the process. Keep employees involved and engaged. Meet regularly to listen to questions and concerns, incorporate feedback, and monitor progress.  Your job as change leader is to stay realistic and optimistic in order to sustain their energy for the long haul. 

  • Celebrate milestones and reward those who embrace change.The encouragement of early adapters is critical for any change to gain momentum. They are the ones who will lead by example and encourage their co-workers across the finish line. Recognize those who exhibit the desired behavior changes and publicly honor each step in the right direction.

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