5 steps to get frontline employees excited about change

Let’s face it, digital transformation is only really successful when employees are on board. It’s critical that employees be part of the change that comes with implementing a new tool in the workplace, both for employee well-being and for the success of the tool. But, of course, getting all frontline employees to buy into that change can be a challenge. Why? Well, mainly because most people prefer to use what they already know and stay in their comfort zone. And this is especially true in the workplace where top-down organizational change is being implemented. That’s when resistance to change in the workplace happens – because most employees aren’t given the choice. And, as you can imagine, it brings forth a sense of uncertainty with a side of bitterness. Don’t sweat, we’ve got you – keep reading to find out how you can successfully bring about change.

encourage-employees-change-featuredIntroducing employee tools using the Change Curve

To put it simply, change can be challenging – and scary too. The real issue comes with the fact that not all employees in your company are tech-savvy, and they’re not necessarily ready to fully leverage new technologies you implement. That’s why it’s super important to set a strategy that’ll resonate with your employees, take into account their emotions and keep employee engagement high. A good strategy can get the seamless transition you’re hoping for, along with high adoption rates (employees signing up and engaging with the tool) across the company.

So, how do you make the shift? The Kübler-Ross Change Curve helps a great deal with moving towards success using five steps associated with change management in the workplace. The five steps are: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. They were initially inspired by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ book ‘Death and Dying’, and her work with patients who were terminally ill (just an interesting fact to keep you on your toes).

Kubler-Ross-StepsIn the next section we look at what the steps are, and how you can use them to engage employees with new digital technologies – because nobody wants to see thousands of dollars invested in change go to waste.

5 steps to embrace change

Step 1 – Denial

At this step, the employees are in a position of shock or denial, and have trouble adjusting to the fact that they need to adapt to something new. They simply don’t want to believe that change is happening.

What should you do? Share knowledge. Be transparent with employees and share information about why you’re introducing the change and how it can help. Communicate, communicate, communicate. And, above all, don’t overwhelm employees with lots of information in one go.

Good to know: Employee productivity is low during this step as employees tend to cling to past processes.

Step 2 – Anger

When the reality starts to become clearer, employees may start to feel fear about what’s to come. This often turns into anger. The idea of changing and adapting can anger them.

What should you do? Manage this step very sensibly and involve management as things could get out of hand. Continue to communicate and support employees, and avoid branching out with other strategies. Your focus is needed here.

Good to know: Anger can lead to employee burnout – try to be as supportive as you can.

Step 3 – Bargaining

At this step employees are starting to understand the change that is required, but may make an attempt to postpone or find ways to compromise on less through talks with management.

What should you do? Make sure that employees get the best training possible to ensure smooth transition. Repeat important steps to ensure stickiness.

Good to know: Don’t rush your employees to learn or adapt quickly – be patient.

Step 4 – Depression

Learning phases can be energy draining, and cause morale and excitement to drop. Employees are quick to learn that there’s no way out of the situation and that they need to accept the change. Emotions of extreme sadness, demotivation and regret are high.

What should you do? Make the trainings as exciting and interactive as possible, which will encourage employees to give it their best effort.

Good to know: Some employees start to question their future at the company and may want to look at the competition.

Step 5 – Acceptance

The long awaited step is here; acceptance. And with it comes new goals and aspirations. The importance of change is finally understood, and even embraced. At this step the impact of the change is starting to show, and so the benefits of hard work become clearer. Productivity begins to improve.

What should you do? Make sure you cement this change into your company’s culture to avoid going back to old methods and processes.

Good to know: Some employees will want to explore new opportunities as a result of this change.

The kübler-Ross change curveBenefits of the Change Curve

The Change Curve strategy can be effective when it comes to introducing change and maintaining employee engagement. Some of the key benefits that support change management include:

  • Ease of implementation: The stages are easy to understand and follow, making it relatively easy to use.
  • High responsiveness: Emotional responses are at the heart of the change curve, which makes it easier for management to anticipate how their teams will react at each step.
  • Industry agnostic: The stages are not limited to any specific industry, but are instead focused on people.

Limitations of the Change Curve

Just like all models, the Change Curve too has limitations. Some of these include:

  • Lack of connection between the steps: The link between each step is not all too clear, mainly because not every employee will undergo all the steps.
  • Differing reactions: Adaptation happens at different steps for different employees, which means that all employees will move through the process at a different pace. It naturally makes it harder to plan for management.
  • Inability to observe and assess: The model didn’t originate with corporate change in mind, but for observing terminally-ill patients. That’s why observation is a key factor, but not necessarily easy to do so when you have thousands of employees.

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