Change can instill fear in the hearts of employees. A strong communication plan can help alleviate those fears. However, this presents a quandary for CEOs. Leadership often debates how much communication is too much. Given the chaos that a lack of communication can cause, over communicating is rarely a problem. This is especially true in the face of drastic organizational change such as mergers and acquisitions, leadership change or market shifts.
The CEO who takes on a more protective stance as opposed to a bolder, builder stance will only fan the flames of fear. Employees will shut down, taking the success of the change down with them. Change is essential for growth. Therefore, in the face of change, it is important for the CEO’s role to be that of a change agent. Leaders always need to be more builder-like and confident in how they approach change. Further, they need to be extremely good at managing the expectations from growth. This helps make change more bearable. Moreover, creating a plan to manage change and getting all employees involved in building that plan will take the fear out of change and illustrate or model to employees that change is indeed manageable.
The wise CEO develops a culture that embraces change. This requires that the CEO be intentional in communicating all aspects of what the company is going through, while being willing to share not only the good things about that change but the challenges and the obstacles that change will create. To ensure that this is the case in your organization, here are some critical questions to ask.
- Is there a builder-like mindset in alignment with the protector-like mindset?
- Do managers meet one-on-one with direct reports weekly?
- Does the CEO address the company once a month to share insights?
- Do employees feel comfortable bringing up different views?
Resolving the Challenge of Resistance to Change
The world — and business — are changing. Some economists predict that we will never go back to pre- recession levels. Therefore, expectations must change and perceptions of growth have to adapt to the new economy. Downsizing, reengineering, outsourcing and re-strategizing have become the new norms.
Companies must create a culture that embraces change, not as a reaction to something, but as a business objective, a business strategy similar to planning for revenue growth. A plan for change must become a part of every manager’s performance planning process. Employees should expect things to change and become a part of that change process.
By creating a change mindset as a part of the culture, CEOs can reduce the downside of change. This can help minimize the uncertainty of change that creates fear that erodes a company’s ability to stay ahead of competitors.
Grapic Credit: Big Stock
Written in association with TTI