How to get your Employees Buy-in when Change is Near
No matter the industry you’re in and no matter the size of your business, change comes to every company eventually. Sometimes it happens in gradual shifts over time, and sometimes it happens in abrupt fits and starts. No matter what the change is, you need to get your employees on board because without their buy-in, it is nearly impossible for your company to achieve success.
Believe me, I’ve seen it all: companies that handled change gracefully and others that imploded. I once consulted with a corporation that went through three different CEOs in two years. The company’s core customer was changed and changed again. Because of the constant changes in leadership, employees weren’t sure who to talk to about questions or important decisions. They also had difficulty focusing on their jobs because the customer demographic kept shifting. All of these changes damaged morale, and the company lost a lot of good talent as a result.
Change can be perceived as being scary because it means uncertainty. Employees are worried about their futures. Will they still have a job a year from now? Are the same opportunities going to be available to them? Will they feel happy with the new direction of your company? The way you handle the transition, and how well you reassure your employees, will determine whether you’ll retain your top talent or whether employees will flee looking for greener pastures. Do it right and your workers will feel more motivated than ever to help the business succeed.
It’s hard for employees to focus on their jobs and feel satisfied when they are constantly looking over their shoulders or waiting for the other shoe to drop. Periods of transition are times when rumors and negativity can run rampant unless a steady hand is there to guide employees through encouragement and honesty. That’s where you come in. Provide a stable presence.
Morale will naturally be lower during times of great change. It’s up to you, the company’s leader, to guide the team through this transition. Support communication and transparency so no one is left in the dark and everyone is on the same page. Make your employees feel heard by hosting additional open office hours and Q&A sessions during this period. Sometimes all they need to know is that you hear, understand, and respect them. Be transparent and tell them what you know. It’s okay if you don’t always have the answers, but don’t lie or guess if you don’t know because that will hurt your credibility in the long run. Sometimes, like when you’re waiting for a merger or acquisition to go through, you’re legally bound not to comment on the process. This presents some difficulty, but as soon as you’re able, call a meeting and explain everything–including your legal obligations which prevented you from speaking sooner.
You should also consider bringing in a coach or consultant, such as me, who can guide the leadership team through handling this transition. During my years in the industry, I’ve seen it all: extreme growth, lay-offs, relocations, re-branding, and complete course corrections. I’ve learned how to get companies to survive–and even thrive–during the most challenging situations.