We’re All Competent, We Just Need to Believe It
One of my roles as a change management speaker for companies and organizations in transition is to relay to executives that change almost always brings fears of competence. Managing change isn’t about explaining to employees “not to be afraid,” but helping them to get over the fear of what change is going to do to them.
As a change management inspirational keynote speaker, I hear many moving stories of how insightful and compassionate executives helped their employees overcome fears. Here is how one executive dealt with a technology change to her Florida-based company.
Hidden Competency Fear
A manufacturing company near Orlando, Florida was about to undergo a change in manufacturing equipment as part of an organizational acquisition. About six months before the acquisition was to occur, there was a company picnic. The wife of a supervisor anxiously approached the director of manufacturing and pulled him aside.
“My husband would divorce me if he knew I talked to you,” she started, “but by husband is terrified of the new equipment you are installing.”
The director told her she had absolutely nothing to fear. Her husband was an exceptional employee. They couldn’t have been as successful without him.
“That’s not the problem, ma’am. The new equipment is going to involve learning a lot of manuals and computer study. He doesn’t read very well. And I shouldn’t say this, I know, but I don’t think two of his managers read too well either. It keeps my husband worried at night.”
Change management should not be about pep talks and T-shirts but about being authentic in helping employees best deal with the change.
In this case, the executive realized that between the supervisor and his top-two managers she had close to 65 years of manufacturing experience in the department. They were loyal and good people. She remembered her next-door neighbor had just retired after years of teaching elementary school.
For the next six months, for two-days a week, the teacher worked with the employees to help them improve their reading skills. The director of manufacturing called “the class” equipment procedure training, and in case anyone asked, the teacher was identified as an equipment trainer from the manufacturer. As a result, the literacy of the three employees dramatically improved, and as they devoted several sessions to reading the manuals, there was a seamless transition when the change occurred. In addition, the employees felt empowered and appreciated.
Employees Can Overcome Change Management Competency Fears
Dr. Gary P. Hamel is an international management consultant and I enjoy reading his insights. I like what he recently said about change: “You can’t build an adaptable organization without adaptable people–and individuals change only when they have to, or when they want to.”
In my experience as a keynote speaker on change management I have often observed that in organizations undergoing change, the fears that employees have about what change is going to do to them can be overwhelming. Fear can stop employees from making the changes “they have to or want to,” and fear can be crippling.
We’re all competent, we just need to believe it. Sometimes real support, meaningful instruction or even a sense of appreciation can work wonders.
Book Mike Hourigan, America’s Change Management Speaker for Companies in Transition for your next event. For more information on Mike Hourigan’s inspiration keynotes and breakouts, call today at: (704) 875-3030 or by filling out the form on this page.
View part 2 of our series on change management: Motivational Speaker on Change & Employee Relationships Mike Hourigan