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Hone your communication skills so employees don’t fear change

Hone your communication skills so employees don’t fear change

Implementing changes in business operations is by no means an easy feat, but it is one that should be effectively communicated to employees, according to Jean Gamester.

The first port of call for company chiefs seeking to alter their business processes is to re-examine the reasons for the changes, the director of consultancy firm Semaphore said.

Ms Gamester added: “What is it that your business – your team is there for – really? How is it making the world a better place? And how will the changes you want to make serve that higher purpose? Once you have worked that out, share it with your people – and keep sharing it.”

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A common mistake business leaders make when it comes to disseminating information to workers, according to Ms Gamester, is focusing solely on what it is they want to say with no consideration on what the audience wishes to hear.

She explained it is important to address employees’ concerns because some may feel threatened and/or overwhelmed by change. Some may even opt to block it out altogether in the hope it will go away, Ms Gamester explained.

Business bosses should seek to inform their workforce of a pending change more than once she said, adding: “If you describe a change, they will talk with their colleagues about it afterwards. They will start to interpret what you have said and imagine what it means. In no time at all those interpretations and imaginings become pseudo-facts.

“The only way to minimise this is to keep talking – using all the channels available to you. Make sure the managers and team leaders are equipped with the correct information so that they can get it right when their teams come to them.”

The absence of questions at the end of an information session on the change and employees complaining that there has been too much communication on the change are signs of effective communication, Ms Gamester said.

She added: “A lot of leaders get nervous about talking about change. That’s not surprising – change is an unpredictable, creative thing and we don’t feel fully in control.   

“My advice is to accept you are not fully in control, just focus on the reasons you are making the change, on what is going on for your people. And most of all, keep talking, keep listening all the way through - that way you, your people and your organisation will triumph and transform.”

Adviser view

Stefan Fura, director of Leicester based Furnley House, said: “I do not think anyone likes change. We are a fast-growing business so we are experiencing change continuously – except we do not call it change. We refer to change as ‘improvements’. I think the key is to communicate the change to the workforce and disclose exactly why the change is taking place.”

Mr Fura added: “I think many people fear what the change means to them and whether it would result in additional burdens to their day-to-day operations. I think repetition is key to ensure that no one is out of the loop.”