Empathy, Understanding, Information

Every once in a while, we know that there is change on the horizon.  Sometimes it is needed and especially now in our ever changing and evolving world.

Organizational change can make others fearful (and perhaps you as the leader as well) and sometimes will affect you and your employees.  If you are making a culture shift or even are working towards being a more inclusive workplace, you need to have empathy, patience, and understanding.  It is important to remember that your employees are not aware of what you may know yet.  Leaders and C-Suites generally know what the change is well before they announce it to the public and their employees.  When you do tell them that say, they will have a new manager, there has been an overhaul on behaviour policies (or your code of conduct) or even other types of organizational changes, be sure to remember that they are finding out for the first time.  Emotions can come with this including: happiness, fear, loss, confusion, anger, etc. 

You need to be prepared.  Knowing your employees individually comes in very handy during times of organizational shifts.  Not everyone reacts the same, so you need to know how to handle each individual person.  An example: Jane is being promoted to manager due to her having proved herself to be a great inclusive leader, excellent work ethics and is always reliable, but Joe thought he should get this position (he is not reliable at all and doesn’t want to lead – he made it clear he just wants more money).  Jane is happy she is being recognized for her accomplishments but perhaps a bit fearful as to how others may react.  Perhaps Joe is confused or angry about not getting the position, after all he has been there longer.  For Jane, you want to congratulate her, ensure she knows you are there to help her as she grows into the new position.  However, you need to explain to her new reports (maybe Joe is one of them) about the mentoring and training period for Jane, how the transition will happen, etc.  This helps others become more comfortable with the management change.  Perhaps, you see Joe is angry or acting out during the announcement.  Take him aside later and ask him how he feels about the situation.  If he feels he should have received the promotion over Jane, then be prepared to explain why Jane deserved the promotion AND then tell Joe what he can do so he can receive this promotion next time.  If he is willing, help him get there with training, education or more experience.  If he continues to be angry or unwilling to accept Jane as the new manager, then that is when the disciplinary approach is required.

Leaders need to help the team in understanding things like culture shifts, how to be inclusive, and explaining why someone is hired over someone else.  If Joe was hired over Jane because he was buddies with the hiring manager or because males get hired over females (unconscious or conscious bias could play a role), what may the outcome be?  Will sales go up or down?  Will employees stay or leave?  Will Jane continue to be a bright star, or will her light dampen?

There are many things to consider when dealing with change in any organization, but with the right leadership team in place, hiring the right people for the right job, explaining clearly and concisely the changes, and using a listening ear, you can do wonders for your workplace culture changes and the mindsets of your team.

Want to learn more about inclusive leadership or ways to improve your workplace through understanding and knowledge of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion?  Then please reach out today to set up your free consult.  tara@netwomen.us.

Tara Lehman

Division Director / Facilitator- Netwomen

Trucking and Transportation