In today’s corporate America, to avoid change and become satisfied or complacent in success is to hasten the demise of your business. Successful and innovative organizations tend to embrace change and foster a corporate culture where employees feel involved and part of the changes taking place around them.
In order for this to occur, employees must first understand the organizations purpose. This should not be confused with their goals and objectives. The purpose is simply the sole reason the organization exists. Aligning changes with the purpose provides employees with stability during such turbulent moments of change.
In addition to this, during such periods of change, employees must also have trust in their organizations leadership. If an employee distrusts his or her manager, when asked to undertake a new or daunting challenge, the transition is unlikely to occur. With a solid foundation built upon trust, the employee is more likely to forge ahead even when change scares them. Managers have the ability to influence their employees’ trust levels by simply being trustworthy themselves.
This can be seen in the book, Managing Transitions by William Bridges. According to his book, a manager can build up his or her trustworthiness through a number of different actions, including:
- “Do what you say you will do.”Be vigilant to back up your words with action, don’t let individuals down with empty promises.
- “If…you cannot follow through on a promise, warn the person as soon as the situation becomes clear to you.”Communication is key to maintaining trust among employees, clients and everyone in your life. This step is engrained in the DMI culture of ‘No Surprises,’ done by maintaining open communication on all fronts.
- “Listen to people carefully and tell them what you think they are saying.”This is a crucial component to communication. Participate in active listening to ensure each individual is on the same page before moving forward.
- “Protect anything that is related to what matters to them.”Demonstrate to individual employees that you are looking out for their best interests. Communicate these efforts with employees during times of change to make for a smooth transition.
- “Share yourself honestly.”This is my favorite, because I personally connect with and trust managers who are open and relatable, rather than tough and impregnable emotionally.
- “Ask for feedback.”Involve your team. Ask for feedback and reflect on what you receive. However, it is important to realize you don’t have to take all of it at immediate face value.
- “Don’t try to push others to trust you further than you trust them.”You will eventually give yourself away in conversations if you just don’t trust someone.
- “Try extending your trust of others a little further than you normally would.”This is related to #7 above, but I find this can be tough to do.
- “Don’t confuse being trustworthy with ‘being a buddy.’”Another of my favorites, which I also find relevant to consulting, because even though professional friendships can be helpful and good, it cannot substitute for doing the right thing. It’s said that, “trust doesn’t automatically come with friendship.”
- “Don’t be surprised if your trust-building project is viewed suspiciously.”Having been a manager in the past, I can relate to this piece of advice. You cannot erase employees’ past experiences with untrustworthy managers. Change can bring forward intrinsic feelings of mistrust as a form of self-protection. Continue to model trustworthy behavior and don’t give up.
Follow these steps to make for a seamless transition to the inevitable change that happens within every organization. In an effort to sum up this advice and keep it simple, remember these simple words from Mark Twain:
“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”
Andy Mathews, MBA, PMP, PSM-I, PSPO-I