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Reduce resistance to change by helping employees feel like they have control

For the past six weeks, I’ve been offering up specific actions that leaders can take to successfully implement change in organizations.  In my last strategy in this series, I discussed one way to reduce employee’s resistance to change – reduce uncertainty.  Today’s tip is also about reducing resistance to change, this time: help your employees regain a feeling of control.

Help your employees regain a feeling of control

Just as uncertainty leads to fear, so does a feeling of loss of control.  When people feel like they are losing control, the usual human reaction is to go back to what is known and familiar, to dig in one’s heels and stay with the status quo.  And of course, if you’re trying to implement change, this is exactly the reaction that you do not want.  So as a leader, when you’re working to support your employees through a significant organizational change, one of the most powerful things you can do is help them regain that sense of being in control.

How do you do that?  By giving them an opportunity to take action.  It doesn’t have to be anything enormous, it could be helping them research other options, or letting them ask questions, or engage in the first step of a longer process.  The key here is to let them do something, anything related to the change initiative in some way.  When people take action, even if it’s a baby step, it makes them feel like they have regained control of the situation, and that is exactly your ultimate goal.  Once employees feel like they are regaining control of their own personal situation, they are much more likely to be open and willing to participate in the change process.

I’ve been video-blogging on this subject for six weeks now.  What do you have to add to the discussion?  What do you think about today’s tip on reducing resistance to change?  Would love to hear from you.

What creates healthy employees? The Globe’s Employee Recommended Workplace Awards offers insights

ERWAJust over one year ago, I told all of you about this very cool project that was sponsored by my colleagues at The Globe & Mail – a Canada-wide survey that is investigating what companies are doing to foster a working environment that creates engaged AND healthy employees.  The definition of “healthy” doesn’t just mean physical health, but also mental, work and life health.  This year-long project culminated with nine companies receiving the inaugural annual Employee Recommended Workplace Awards last month in Toronto.    Winners were announced in three categories (private, public, and not-for-profit/government) in the small, mid-sized and large groupings, and you can see them here (scroll down to find the list).

What creates healthy employees?

A follow-up story in The Globe on engaged and healthy employees titled The winning formulas for workplace wellness offered an opportunity for each of these companies to list the single factor that they believe caused their employees to rank them so highly.  You can read the entire article at the link I’ve given you, but I’ve listed the nine factors for you below: Continue reading

Reducing employee resistance to change – one approach

Following up on last week’s well-received strategy on leading successful change, here is my next piece of advice in this ongoing series, this time on how to overcome resistance to change from your employees.  The reality is that when employees perceive the change initiative to have a negative impact at a personal level, resistance to change is very common.  What is not as well recognized is that this resistance to change is a very normal reaction.  But that doesn’t mean that you can’t do anything as a leader to reduce that resistance to change.  In fact, quite the contrary!

Seek to reduce uncertainty

One idea: reduce uncertainty, particularly in terms of how the change affects your employees at an individual level.  Take the time to speak with each of your staff, individually if possible, and help them gain an understanding of what the change will mean to them.  Uncertainty, left unchecked, transforms into fear, so anything that you can say to reduce that uncertainty will have a positive effect.

When any sort of a change initiative is first announced, your staff are wondering about things like – will I have to learn new stuff, will this affect my workload, will I now report to someone else, will I still have a job? – and all of these cause anxiety.  So take the time to fill in the blanks for them.  Now sure, you won’t always have all the answers yet, but tell them what you know.  Some certainty is better than none at all!  Be forthcoming and honest, and in particular, make it a point to share any positive outcomes.  Anything that you can do or say to reduce uncertainty means that you’ll be better able to overcome your employees’ natural resistance to change.

I have more ideas on this subject of reducing to resistance to change, and you’ll see another tip next week, but in the meantime, as always, I want to know what you think of today’s suggestion.   Does it make sense?  How hard is this to do?  Would love to hear your perspectives, so please comment below.

What school teachers already know about employee training

classroomAs a leader, you recognize the value of investing in training for your employees.  A skilled workforce leads to improved performance and productivity, which means that your staff can do their jobs more effectively on a day-to-day basis.  When people understand their roles, they know how to achieve positive outcomes, and operate more productively.  When you equip your employees with the skills they need to embrace new techniques and procedures, you also maintain your competitiveness.  And when you invest in employee training, you positively impact employee morale and commitment, and eventually performance levels.  All of which means that you want your investment in employee training to not only be useful in the short-term but also last in the long-term!

What makes employee training effective?

So what does it take to make employee training effective?  What is it that ensures that your people are able to understand what is being taught AND influences them to take action?  The answer, not surprisingly, can be found in the education profession.  School teachers are well aware of the value of formative assessment tools to help students learn more effectively.  Essentially, formative assessment strategies are a range of procedures used by school teachers to progressively modify teaching and learning activities when working with students.  And these same tools can be just as powerful when it comes to employee training.  Here are four strategies that teachers use with school children that can be just as effective for leaders to use in the workplace with employees. Continue reading

Tip #4 in our ongoing video series about successful change management

So I’m back today with another installment in my ongoing video series on strategies you can use to be a more effective change management agent in your organization.  Today’s tip is one that very often gets overlooked, to the detriment of the success of the change management initiative.

Tip #4: Recognize and celebrate the good work that was done under the old system

This is a step that is often missed in change management, and it’s a huge pity!  In an effort to “sell” the change, managers sometimes dismiss or minimize any successes of the past.  And that’s a big mistake.  Because when you dismiss or minimize past successes, inadvertently you run the very real risk of leaving long-standing employees feeling unappreciated.  Despite the great things that are to come in the new world, there was a lot of excellent work done in the past.  And if you minimize past successes, you run the risk of alienating the very people who will be helping you accomplish the new reality. Continue reading

Seven messages leaders need to deliver to their customer service team

mikekerr3My professional colleague and friend Michael Kerr is a Hall of Fame international business speaker and the author of six books, including The Humor Advantage: Why Some Businesses Are Laughing All the Way to the Bank.  He is also my guest blogger today, writing about what it takes to create an organizational culture that is focused on customer service.  Even though I’ve often blogged about specific situations that demonstrate what it takes to build (or destroy) customer loyalty (for example, Tilley Endurables, G Adventures, United Airlines, and Sahara Furniture), Michael’s post today comes at this subject from a more macro perspective.  Good reading, I hope you find it of value as well.

P.S. Michael and I will be sharing the mainstage platform (with two other exceptional speakers) at the Customer Service Leadership Summit in Calgary later this year on November 15.  More information about the Summit is at the end of this post below.

A young woman approached me after a talk recently and asked me the following question:  “I’m a brand new leader overseeing a large customer service department and I really want to drive home the importance of customer service,  so what messages could I deliver to help my employees embrace a service-first attitude?”

Seven messages you should heed

Here’s the gist of what I relayed to her –  seven messages I think any customer service leader needs to tell their employees around the topic of customer service. Continue reading

Strategy #3 for creating successful change in your organization

Two weeks ago, I started a video tip series on strategies that you can use to create successful change in your organization.  Last week’s advice was to be patient and persistent with your employees when implementing organizational change.  Today’s strategy to create successful change: be accessible to your employees.

Be accessible to your employees

Successful change means that your employees need to come on board, and they can only do that if they have their concerns addressed and questions answered.  Make yourself available to your staff at all times, but particularly during the early stages of your change initiative.

Do it in groups

One of the best ways to make yourself accessible is to hold frequent town hall or Q & A meetings.  Continue reading

When you’re overwhelmed at work, it’s worth considering another approach

“I can’t talk to you for very long, Merge, we’re buried!” said a client when I returned his call earlier this week.  “What’s going on?” I asked.  He went on to describe the turmoil and chaos in his department at the insurance company where he works.  “We’re overwhelmed at work.  Claim volume is up 200%, our phone lines are flooded, and our call agents feel like they’re drowning.  Plus I can’t get enough adjusters out into the field fast enough, and clients are getting frustrated so they’re calling in more than usual, increasing call wait times even more.  I feel like we’re in a dark tunnel with no end in sight.  Help me!”

Now obviously, this manager’s current state of affairs is driven partially by external circumstances (in this situation, recent weather-related catastrophic events are the root cause of the increased call volumes).  But I was reminded of a phrase often used by a mentor of mine many years ago, so I asked this manager to look at the situation with another filter.  My mentor frequently used to say “Just because it is dark doesn’t mean we’re buried.  Often, it means that no one has bothered to turn on any lights”.

It’s the leader’s job to turn on the lights

Fortunately, the phrase caught my client’s attention.  Enough for him Continue reading

Leading organizational change? Be patient and persistent

My previous strategy on leading successful organizational change was to involve employees early on in the change process.  Today’s tip is a continuation of that idea.  Be patient and persistent with your employees when implementing organizational change.

Be patient and persistent

When employees are faced with change that they perceive as negative, it is absolutely normal for them to go through a stages of denial and anger before they can get to acceptance of the change.  As a leader, it’s important to remember that it takes some people longer to move through denial and anger; in fact, some of your employees will cycle back and forth between denial and anger a few times before they get to acceptance.

The truth is that you simply cannot expect all your employees to jump on the change bandwagon at the same speed.  Continue reading

Dealing with adversity – wisdom from P!nk!

musicnotesThe song “Try” by P!nk popped up on my playlist as I was out walking in my neighbourhood the other day.  Now I’ve heard this song many times in the past, but for some reason (likely because I have recently been dealing with adversity in my personal life), I noticed the lyrics in the refrain more than I usually do.

“Try” by P!nk
Where there is desire, there is gonna be a flame

Where there is a flame, someone's bound to get burned

But just because it burns, doesn't mean you're gonna die

You gotta get up and try, and try, and try

Gotta get up and try, and try, and try

You gotta get up and try, and try, and try

Now I know that this song is actually about romance, but it caught my attention because the words so appropriately so apply to our both our personal and professional lives as well.  If you replace the word “desire” with “adversity”, suddenly these lines take on a whole different meaning.  What was intended to be a song about finding love is now solid advice for dealing with adversity, for never giving up, both in the professional and personal arenas. Continue reading