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How to Encourage Change in the Workplace
As an employee, honesty in your support of proposed changes by your organization’s leadership could encourage fellow co-workers who respect your judgment to jump on board. As a manager, getting employee support as you implement change can come down to how well you communicate the benefits of change to them. As an employee encouraging management to accept your ideas for change in the workplace, you’ll need planning, patience and the ability to persuade.
Write a Plan
Determine the short-term and long-term implications of your desired changes and what the workplace will look like as those changes are implemented. Anticipate the possible obstacles and think of possible solutions to overcome them. Writing a plan will help you crystallize your vision and let you more confidently present your vision to co-workers, managers or senior executives clearly and succinctly.
Do Your Homework
Prepare answers for when people ask why your proposed changes are necessary or how much your changes will cost. Research the costs and benefits of the changes you’re proposing. If the costs of keeping the status quo outweigh the costs of change, you’ll have a stronger case in gaining support for your cause. For example, if your aim is to encourage your organization to implement an employee wellness program, research the financial benefits that similar organizations have experienced through similar initiatives, or look into how such initiatives can improve productivity, reduce sick days or improve employee retention.
Share Your Vision
Talk to people within your organization who you think will be supportive of your proposed changes. Additionally, seek the highest people in the organization to talk to among these likely supporters. Even a reasonable proposal to make minor changes in a workplace can be intimidating to present to a senior executive or at a high-level meeting. Polishing your idea with people you are more comfortable with at different levels within the organization can attract support and prepare you for presenting your idea to senior leaders.
Promote incremental change. Workers can resist change for many reasons, including the speed of change, shifts in routine and familiarity or the scope of work they’ll have to do to implement change, writes professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter in her Harvard Business Review blog. Suggest that your proposed change be put in place slowly, in a spirit of experimentation and flexibility. This can help people warm up to your idea and eventually accept it, rather than stress over the threat of sweeping upheaval.
Ask for feedback on implemented changes. Even if many employees or managers are adapting quickly, and the goals of the changes are being reached, there will still likely be complaints or resistance. Since change can seem great in theory but run into snags down the road in real settings, encouraging ongoing feedback lets workplace change evolve and succeed.
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A writer since 1995, Christian Fisher is an author specializing in personal empowerment and professional success. From 2000 to 2005, he wrote true stories of human triumph for "Woman's World" magazine. Since 2004, he has also helped launch businesses including a music licensing company and a music school.