Let’s talk about change (and a little bit about lockdown)

leanne kilgallon

Hey, welcome to the People In Sync blog, it’s so great to have you here!

For those of you who are familiar with us already either via here, being our clients already (hey you guys!) or through social media, you’ll know that we love to share knowledge and educate as many people as possible.

We’re also pretty good at translating what can ordinarily be seen as complex issues into everyday language, making them a little less daunting at the same time.

So, given that we’re writing this today and it is nearing the end of July 2020, it seemed pretty important that the first blog is all about change.

Change, because we’ve all just been through a period of time we’ll likely (hopefully) never go through again – I will not say unprecedented, during this blog, or ever again, I have only written it here to promise you that you will not hear me say that!

We’ve been through a lot;

Physically, no gym for 4 months has been a killer, I’m not sure about you but home workouts simply aren’t the same! We definitely took for granted how brilliant it was to be able to throw on gym clothes and switch off from the world for an hour or so.

Emotionally, I think we can all say we’ve been tried, tested, teased and tormented during this time – if you’re reading this and can’t relate, you’ve got the formula (send us a message we need it!).

Professionally, anyone else struggled with the differentiation between ‘home’ time and ‘work’ time? We’ve certainly found work-life balance majorly disrupted during this time and let’s face it, it wasn’t exactly harmonious before was it?!

Financially, I mean, either you’ve been furloughed, not been furloughed, got a bounce back loan, not got a bounce back loan, been sick, been around people that are sick or literally become overnight best friends with the Amazon, DPD, Hermes, Uber eats, Deliveroo AND Just Eat drivers (please don’t let that only be us).

Not sure whether to include any home-schooling comments, I think we’ll pass on these because it’s the summer holidays and none of us need to talk about it ever again, ever. Actually, we’ll just put home schooling in the bucket with unpre*******ed.

So, what I’m really trying to say here is; we’ve been through a lot, but we’re coming out the other side. Unfortunately, what isn’t going to stop overnight (unlike hopefully our way too familiar conversations with the delivery guys) is our need for business change.

Business change takes a lot longer, is a little bit more intricate and needs to be handled a lot more sensitively that just cutting up the credit card and locking yourself out of PayPal!

If you’re a business owner and you’re reading this, or a decision maker, manager, change maker, what we want to do is give you a few little insights into how to you can build your confidence when making changes in your business.

First thing to note is, when we talk about making change in this context, we’re talking about restructure and redundancy.

Listen, we know it’s always difficult making change, but if you’ve got your mind right when it comes to it, you’ve already overcome the biggest obstacle.

People want (and need) confident delivery when it comes to decisions that are impacting them personally (especially if said change means they may be out of a job).

So, deliver with conviction your need for change, show compassion for those impacted, know your position and WHY your change needs to happen. Your ‘why’ is very important.

We’ll break it down into a few key points.

Know your reason for change, this sounds simple doesn’t it? But really, it’s about knowing exactly what it is that’s not working, what’s gone wrong, what’s lead you to this point i.e. if it’s financial constraints, a drop in cash flow, loss of clients, that would be a financial change, the likelihood is that change will look like a reduction in headcount to balance finances once more.

Identify the affected employees, remember – when making changes, you look at roles and not people – redundancy can’t be about people. Our role as employers is to protect employment, we should always seek to redeploy employees into new roles wherever possible but if you can’t, it’s the role that is talked about in your business planning stages. It’s once we’ve identified where we need to reduce numbers that names come into it (layman’s terms: you can’t just make people redundant because you don’t like them!).

Communicate, believe it or not the first part of communicating is ensuring you’ve got a solid business case (your business case is made up of points 1 & 2). Then you’re going to think about the ways you communicate, how long for and who is going to be involved. You also need to always remember to communicate with those staff who aren’t directly affected but will be affected in other ways – whether that be due to the increased pressure on their roles due to the removal of others, or acknowledgement that when redundancies occur, the natural instinct is to assume the ‘I’m next’ perception. Alleviate these concerns by talking through your business case, knowing your why and communicating profusely.

Provide clarity, clarity around the process, clarity around their rights, clarity around your rights, clarity around the preventative measures you’ve attempted to make, clarity around their importance and your wish that you didn’t have to do this.

Be human, you know that you don’t want to do this (see point above) but the person going through it definitely wants it less. Have open conversation, treat them like the work colleagues and friends that they’ve become. It’s a horrible process, you can’t take away that fact, but you can make it easier by letting people have a chance to speak, be heard, consider the facts, deal with the emotions, ask you questions, understand. Remember, change inflicts all types of emotions on us (if you fancy extra reading, the Kubler Ross grief theory is what we use to teach CIPD students about the way employees handle change – the two are very similar). Giving people space to do all of this, really helps.

Don’t be put off for life, as your business grows and evolves over time, some things will work and some things won’t, some people will like you and some people won’t. Allow yourself time to grow into this space that is business and all of the trials and tribulations that brings. Sometimes, these processes go really (really) well and everyone is left feeling they ticked all the boxes, sometimes, they don’t, and they leave people questioning the process in its entirety. Either way, you’ll likely experience both of these things at some point in your career. Educate yourself on how to hone the process, how to support your employees and deliver with conviction the things you need to do to make your business a success.

So, some insight into change and how to ensure success, our parting word is this – you’re going to feel overwhelmed by this, you’re not alone, you will navigate it, you will be a success, take your time and don’t rush.

You’ve got this – we believe in you.

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