Working from home is not the only change your employees are dealing with. They are most likely also dealing with changes inside their home as well as adapting to the changes in the workplace. On top of the physical change, there are procedural changes and policy changes. You have also probably adapted the call model for their daily usage during this pandemic. No matter how much change you encounter, change can still be difficult. Thus, to help your employees perform during this time, you have to connect with them and help them process the change.
Tips to help your employees adapt to change
1. Communicate often, early, openly, and then communicate some more.
a. Don’t assume the message is clear or that everyone heard the same thing.
b. Do multiple check-ins throughout the day and week. Remember, you are no longer able to walk the floor and see faces.
c. Ask how the message was interpreted. Take time to listen to how things are said, not just what was said.
d. Don’t give oxygen to rumors. There is a lot of concern about tomorrow and job security. Help ease the anxiety by keeping communication open. It is okay to say, “I don’t have an answer for that question or concern right now.”
e. Don’t assume everyone got the “email”. Follow up in one-on-one sessions. Check for understanding. If there is a new program, ensure your employees know how to use it, sell it, and when to use it.
f. Invite employees to share concerns and feedback and don’t penalize them when they do. The same way we teach to Acknowledge the emotion of customers, do this with your employees. They also want to be heard and understood.
2. Identify the “nay-sayers”. These employees may bring a unique perspective to the team or may even speak to an emotion or concern others are afraid to mention. Gain the alliance of these people, and you can gain additional silent resisters. Check in on the quiet ones and get feedback from them.
3. Be reasonable and flexible. This is not to say you don’t hold people accountable for goals or targets. Just don’t act like there isn’t a pandemic going on that may have a greater impact then you are aware on your employees. Many employees are juggling working from home and homeschooling their kids. They may even be the caregivers, so it is helpful to know the challenges they are facing.
a. Timing matters. You may think this is just one change and not be aware of other changes the person is going through.
b. Everyone processes change differently. Give employees space to process change while helping them through the process.
4. Enlist your team to be part of the process. Get feedback on how the calls are going. What is successful and what is a struggle? Who is effective? Can your employees learn from one another?
a. Allow employees to help in the discussion of challenges and obstacles as well as possible solutions to help navigate the change.
b. Don’t alienate your people by criticizing their ideas or feedback or challenges to the change.
5. Finally, share the benefits of the change. What can be gained during the process? What may life look like after the pandemic? Be clear with expectations and roles. And also, even if forced change, there can be growth. Explore the advantages of the change.