an employee managing change in the workplace from a laptop

How to Manage Change in the Workplace

5th April 2023

Although change will be inevitable throughout your working life, your ability to navigate it will highlight you as a highly capable employee, and will help you to learn valuable skills in resilience and persistence. 

While change is not always a physical thing that can be manipulated, managing it can often mean having to rely on the strength of your interpersonal relationships with colleagues, and using trust and strategy to overcome any stumbling blocks, whether physical or not.

Throughout the course of your career you will experience both positive and negative change. These may include natural progression in your role as colleagues leave and move on, redundancy, a change in role or department, or increased responsibilities.

If you progress through your company into roles with greater responsibility or management obligations, you may encounter resistance to your newfound authority, for example. Alternatively, you could find yourself responsible for change occurring by changing the processes and policies in your company. 

Adapting to change, especially when it’s sudden can feel difficult at times, as humans typically thrive in stable and predictable conditions. However, pushing yourself to welcome change can open doors to a host of new opportunities in your professional and personal life.

Here’s how you can manage change in your workplace effectively using skills to improve your personal skill set and performance. 

Prepare for Change by Learning Soft Skills

Soft skills are essential for managing change in the workplace, and creating a happy and harmonious work environment for all employees. It can help to create a more productive team. 

Additionally, soft skills can help you deal with challenging and changing situations by building trust amongst a team, and creating a shared vision for progress.

By using soft skills, your ability to interact with other employees is improved by enhancing your problem solving skills in the event of a challenging situation. If you’re a regular employee, this will help you prepare for a career in management by demonstrating leadership skills and an ability to remain calm in a crisis.

This will in turn help you to manage unpredictable situations if they arise, and will also help you to grasp different opportunities, whether that’s as a result of promotion, moving to a different department or workplace. 

Soft skills will also help you to anticipate any potential resistance to change in the workplace if you work in management. Using skills to empathise with your team during change that is difficult to navigate can enable them to feel supported and heard. Without this, you may find that your team will suffer from reduced performance, lack of motivation and confidence. 

Another example of a key soft skill is time management. As a manager, you will often find that you may have multiple tasks to complete at once, all with different deadlines and priorities. If you need help to prioritise your tasks, you can use apps like Microsoft To Do, which will help you stay on top of your to do list with minimal effort and maximum results.

Communicate with Your Peers

As with many situations in life, effective communication is key to the effective management of both sudden and gradual change, whether planned or otherwise.

If you are leading and managing other team members, communication is even more important to help you to manage change. Research has shown that around 69% of managers are uncomfortable communicating with their employees. This can often lead to inconsistency in team performance, a lack of direction, and confusion around responsibilities and roles. 

By remaining honest with your team, and advocating the advantages and benefits of the change, you can help to keep morale high, and ensure consistency and a team spirit to bring the change into existence effectively.

However, you can combat this by initiating regular communication with your line manager during a progress check or 1:1 meeting. Taking part in honest communication about the areas you believe you need more support in will help you to remain focused, on task, and confident in your ability to master the area that is being changed. Managers will also be able to answer questions about the process and your role within it.

If the areas of change are related to an area of learning and development, there may be other tools or methods that your manager can suggest for you to try to help you understand better, or work in a way that is easier for you to learn. 

Use Skills Learned from Further Education

If you’ve embarked on a further education course, you will have learned valuable skills along the way to complement change management in your workplace.

Distance learning courses can help you learn additional skills on top of your academic qualification due to the independent nature of the studying. By studying independently you will master skills in perseverance, resilience and time management. 

Additionally, distance learning can also provide you with an opportunity to master virtual communication skills by encouraging communication through emails and video calls. You will also be able to hone your written communication skills through emails.

As distance learning courses are designed to fit around your individual schedule for employment, childcare or other caring responsibilities, there is more emphasis placed on managing your own time and organising your learning to complement your existing commitments. 

Whether you opt for a distance learning course in Education MA, Healthcare Management MSC, or a Master of Business Administration (MBA), all will equip you with the transferable skills you need to thrive during a period of change. 

Managing the Natural Evolution of Policies, Processes and Technology

In a time of economic change, and technological growth, businesses are changing quickly to accommodate these changes, and are subsequently adopting new policies and processes to reflect the progress.

Changes in policies and processes can be disruptive while new routines are adopted. For example, during the Covid-19 pandemic, many businesses were forced to abide by strict government guidelines regarding health and safety. Sneeze guards were required to be in place for any communal areas and strict cleaning guidelines were in place, as well as compulsory mask-wearing.

Occasionally, disruptive policies can take time to root within a team, so your ability to remain calm and manage the situation effectively will help everyone else to follow your lead, and will ultimately improve employee engagement.

You might also want to pay attention to any team members who have a condition that makes change difficult to adapt to. In supporting other employees’ feelings, it will help you to become more compassionate and knowledgeable about how change can affect others in different ways.

Managing Risks

One unavoidable part of change management is related to managing the associated risks of both sudden and gradual change. 

As with any large and sudden change, there is a risk of alienating the workforce, causing employees to seek opportunities elsewhere. 

Additionally, change can bring about a decline in mental health for some people, and so it’s important to ensure that there is support in place for those who need it. Companies like Luminate can provide mental health training awareness training in the workplace to help support employees who may be struggling with change, or are in need of extra support and guidance.

Additionally, managing the risk of disruption to your company will minimise profit loss and keep employee productivity stable and flourishing.

Although change is an inevitable part of life and the working world, you can prepare for it by using skills learned from previous experiences to your advantage, and be prepared to react positively to change as it happens. Ensure that you are reflective of your company's culture and values to react positively in the face of change, and appreciate the long term benefits you will receive as a result. 

Are you interested in honing your change management skills with a distance learning course? View our course list today to find your next adventure with ARU.