Tag Archives: change at work

The emotional rollercoaster of change in internal comms

Whether it’s mild skepticism or all out panic, reactions to change vary greatly.

A common factor in change, however, is resistance.

Change leads us into unknown territory, which represents risk.

Familiarising ourselves with new things also requires effort.

In environments where time is at a premium, such as the modern workplace, this is an instant turn-off.

This presents a conundrum for internal communication professionals. We know it’s not an option to never refresh our platforms.

But we also know that changes such as relaunching a magazine, updating an app or altering a meeting schedule can create the kind of negative vibes that are toxic to engagement.

If you’re thinking of changing one of your main IC tools, take a moment to consider Elisabeth Kübler-Ross; the psychiatrist who created the eponymous model of grief management.

The Kübler-Ross change curve was originally intended to postulate the emotions of people who are experiencing genuine emotional trauma. Over the years however, it has also been applied to change management in the business world.

Could it also be applied to internal communication?

The popular perception of this model – that people move from emotion to the next in a timely sequence – isn’t quite right.

But what Kübler-Ross intended was to identify the key feelings associated with grief and how these affect people’s wellbeing. In the business world, we simply swap ‘wellbeing’ for ‘morale’ or ‘performance level’.

By empathising with audiences and taking proactive measures based on people’s likely emotional states, IC professionals will be in a strong position to ensure changes go smoothly.

Strategies for change management: guiding people towards acceptance and integration

Shock = Alignment
Engage with audiences at the first opportunity to inform them about the change, discuss why it’s necessary. Tailor the tone, language and delivery method of your messages to employee preferences.

Denial = Inspiration
Explain what the positive outcomes will be. Align business benefits with personal benefits so people will want the change to succeed. Make it clear that the change is happening, but be careful not to sound too authoritarian.

Anger = Maximise communication
When people are angry or frustrated, they need to be listened to. Provide maximum opportunities for communication between employees and key stakeholders for the change (sponsors, decision-makers, deliverers, etc).

Depression = Motivate
Understanding the reasons why people might be uncomfortable with change. Why might they be wary of a new-look magazine, or reluctant to try an app’s new functionality? Share stories about colleagues (or employees from other businesses if necessary) who had similar feelings but now love the new version.

Above all, strike a positive ‘can do’ tone in your messaging. Let people know that this is a change for you too, and lead by example.

The psychology of workplace change

Stephanie Davies, Laughology Founder and CEO, takes the hot seat, blogging about the psychology of change at work.

Change is a word that can cause all kinds of emotional responses. Some people view change as negative, while others see it as positive. But now, even the way change happens is changing, which means there’s a lot to get our heads around.

These days, many modern businesses treat change as a continuum, rather than a finite process. The fast pace of the world means that many organisations position transformation as continuous improvement, especially those that are constantly evolving to stay ahead of the game and future-proof themselves.

Ways of working, lifestyles and services are developing all the time, forcing organisations to evolve with them. For example, office spaces and set working hours will be a thing of the past before we know it and communicating at work will be more about social media platforms and instant messaging.

We will all need to become learning ninjas, constantly updating our skills to match new systems and beat the competition.

By helping employees to grasp this concept and improving their resilience, adaptive thinking, flexibility and growth mindset, you can ensure they are future fit. Businesses need people who can think and adapt quickly and effortlessly and who will and feel positive about doing so.

As Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu said: “Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes. Don’t resist them; that only creates sorrow. Let reality be reality. Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”

At Laughology we would advise you to:

1. Support your workforce in becoming future fit.
– Be clear about why continuous development is important – what does it mean for the organisation, why is it important for the business and how will it help in future?
– Share ideas, inspire with vision and engage people with their own development
– Lead the way. You should make sure managers have the knowledge, people skills and coaching skills to successfully evolve their teams
– Create the right culture. A culture of continual learning and trust built through honest positive, open communication will impact how people adapt to new ideas
– Help employees to understand where you are now and what needs to happen to get you to the next stage; this will make change easier to stomach. Small, manageable and well-communicated steps
will help people feel more in control and happy about development.

2. Become a growth mindset business.
Organisations that welcome new ideas and experience are the best performers. Too often, businesses can stifle experimentation due to fear of failure and because it’s easier to stay in their comfort zone. But it’s a changing world. Invite new ideas and ensure that resources and encouragement are available for your people to continuously learn and develop.

3. Pause, assess and celebrate.
Encouraging your team to take a deep dive into the process behind its own successes and failures will maximise learning and improve performance by instigating employee-driven change . We work in such fast-paced environments that it’s easy to finish one project and move straight onto the next without pausing to ask what worked well and what could be done differently next time.

4. Reinforce growth mindset practices through communications.
To have a true growth mindset, an organisation needs to constantly highlight and reinforce growth mindset practices. Try encouraging your people to share their favourite recent examples of their growth mindset with their teams, and share growth mindset success stories through your channels at every opportunity, across the whole organisation.