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Better Business: Preparing employees for change

Most people experience an emotional cycle when faced with change. This varies by individual and by the type of change and can start with shock or denial before going through anger and self-doubt before people accept and finally embrace change. Anything with financial implications will have much greater impact than almost anything else.

Recognising the emotional rollercoaster and judging the likely reactions of colleagues is an important part of managing change.

Significant change in advice businesses is increasing as competition also increases, so preparing in advance of telling the others in the business is essential. Think about the following:

  • Ensure everyone understands why change is happening and what will happen next
  • Give as much information as possible in a variety of formats (for example, written documents following a presentation)
  • Listen carefully to comments, concerns and reaction
  • Answer all the questions quickly
  • Remain sympathetic but repeat why the change is necessary
  • Communicate progress, ideally weekly
  • Give time for people to absorb the messages and respond to change

Opinion leaders and people you want to retain are particularly important in the change process.

Talk to them about the change before a business-wide announcement to help gauge reaction and secure their support.

David Shelton is the author of “The Business of Advice” book and website

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