During the pandemic, we conducted free consultation for businesses suffering due to the lockdown. My sales team spoke to a newly appointed leader who had been in charge of a family-owned business since November 2019. He envisioned a company culture where employees could contribute their thoughts into the planning process and had a say in decision making. Unfortunately, most of his employees were older than him and the other employees refused to trust him and his vision of the company.
These free consultations were selective in nature but given the urgency of the situation, we scheduled a call immediately. On the call, he said “Sir, the employees are resistant to my plans and they refuse to participate in discussions. The existing company culture does not allow them to have a say in important decisions. I truly believe that these employees have much more potential than doing monotonous work. My vision is to have a culture where ideas whether they are good or bad, are welcomed in a positive light and in turn, give the employees the confidence to participate in future discussions. Where am I going wrong? We have weekly touch up meetings, introductory seminars, endless calls but nothing seems to change! What should I do?”
I replied, “Managerial change is one of the biggest changes an organization can undergo. Our education system teaches us what hierarchies are and what are the different type of personalities. But we’re never taught how to deal with such personalities. Regardless of the size of the company these changes are difficult to accept positively. These circumstances and how they are handled are the true representation of the new leader.
Time forces change and thus, new leaders have a different vision for the organization. Employees are accustomed to the old ways of operating and the existing culture. A small change in either of these two results in tension and gossip. This makes it imperative for organizations to control such a situation. Creating an environment of acceptance is extremely important and this begins with HR managers.
Employees will refuse to accept such a change and the only way to make them feel comfortable with this change is not a seminar where you present your ideas. A seminar like this will only make them feel even more uncomfortable!
Why? Because. these ‘Introductory’ seminars create a perception that the new leader is shoving the new vision down their throats!
Therefore, ‘Human connection’ is the most important way in which change can be gradually accepted. This new leader’ is neither aware of the way things are done in the organization nor does he know the employees.
Before we move forward, you should connect with the influencers of the employee group and understand them better. This will help you facilitate change easier. Further, you should focus on the following 5 aspects: –
Communicate clearly and politely. Everyone appreciates a polite and kind person. This will make them feel that you’re approachable which will help you create a participative culture.
Maintain visibility. Try to be as transparent about the change in processes. Employees should be aware of each other’s work. Expect questions and answer them in order to get them on board with your ideas.
Juggling multiple changes at the same time
Focus on one change at a time. Excelling at one is better in the beginning rather than doing too much in too little time.
Give teams the flexibility to & with the new modus operandi till it is in alignment with the company’s culture. This will make them feel accountable and a ‘part’ of the team.
There is a thin line between being aware of operations and micro-management. Micro-management is known to destroy teams because of the over-controlling nature! Make sure you avoid this. Instead of taking continuous updates have candid conversations with them but at the same time have weekly touchpoints to understand their progress.