Help individuals work through the implications of the change themselves, without telling them what to do.
Part of awareness-building for employees is learning what the change will mean for them personally. When a change is proposed, leaders are in the best position to help employees understand the reasons for change in meaningful terms and to evaluate how the change will impact them at the individual level. To be effective in this role, leaders must have the opportunity to build awareness of the need for change themselves – and must therefore have accurate and complete messages relating to the change and basic skills and knowledge in leading change with their own employees.
It is also important to remember that leaders are employees first and leaders second. If they don’t understand the need for the change themselves or don’t have the support to participate in the change, they will experience resistance themselves. It is critical to plan activities to build awareness and need for change with leaders before expecting them to effectively build awareness with their employees.
Leaders have the greatest challenge as they are in charge of translating the change message from the top to their employees. Once a leader is onboard and has received the appropriate training and coaching, they will be able to conduct effective sessions with their employees. Face-to-face communications with employees about the change has been cited in all of our longitudinal benchmarking studies as the most effective form of communication. Honest, straightforward and confidential discussions also help to correct and misunderstandings and provide an opportunity to collect feedback from employees, which will help leadership better the background conversation. While group meetings are more convenient and useful for initiating communications, on-on-one conversations that offer details of the change on a personal level are best at answerting “what’s in it for me?”