Why People Fear Change

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When it comes to change, people can have very positive or negative feelings towards something new. This is especially true when it is in the workplace. A job represents stability and security for many people. The fear of that stability or security coming under threat can be very daunting. We spend a great deal of our lives at work and it has a huge impact on our wellbeing. But it’s a known fact that businesses have to change all the time.

Evolution of business

It’s important that businesses continue to evolve, in order to remain relevant within their industry. However, recognising and understanding employees concerns about change can help ensure both employee and employer survive and see the benefits of the changes.

The fear of change can be deep-seated and comes from factors like loss of control and uncertainty. If a business decision is unexpected, it can have a huge impact on the company’s employees.  It needs to be handled in a positive way, so people aren’t left feeling let down or vulnerable.

The wider implications of change

Change, particularly where there are redundancies or job losses involved, does not only impact on the people directly affected by it.  It can also affect the wider team, even if their roles do not change.  Unless handled correctly, change can lead to team members feeling isolated, and in turn, they can become resistant to change.

To ensure change is managed effectively it is important to maintain morale within the team.  To do this, communication is key.  Good, clear, open communication can help take away some of the fear associated with change.  If people are kept informed and understand what is happening and why, then they are more likely to accept – or even embrace – change.

Maintaining a positive attitude

Understanding what employees need to get through change with a positive attitude and outlook can benefit everyone. Outplacement can also be used to support employees from the announcement of change all the way through to securing their future placements, ensuring that the experience is positive for all.

In their shoes   

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Transitional periods in any company are times of upheaval.  It’s important to take your employees’ wellbeing into consideration and to look at what is happening from their point of view. In their shoes, what would you want to know to be kept informed? What information, communication, support and advice would you expect from your own employer?

In the loop

Being kept in the loop is the most important part of the process. The ‘fear of the unknown’ needs to be kept to the minimum. Not knowing only cause unnecessary stress for your employees. As you become aware of ongoing developments, make sure that you pass that information on to your workforce. In this instance, transparency is always the best policy. This way, everyone is up to speed on where they stand.  Sometimes it’s even worth updating your team, even when there is nothing new to update them on.

Future direction

When it comes to looking at your employees’ future direction, you need to help them look at what their options are and how best to pursue them. Keep communication as a two-way street. Your input is essential as to where ‘you’ and ‘they’ see themselves in the future. Many employees take career transition as a chance to try something new and untried for them, career-wise. See how they can make their skills count, in roles where they will feel fulfilled. Most importantly, make sure that they don’t lose confidence and are able to retain enthusiasm. Your reassurance is key to their attitude going forward.

Positive connections

Make sure that your employees don’t think that their redundancy reflects on them and their capabilities. Changes are made for a myriad of reasons and it’s important that it’s not seen as a reflection on their input.  Maintaining morale, even when things may not look rosy, is important for both individuals and for your team as a unit. Try to keep the positives of redundancy to the fore, with the accent on ‘new opportunities’ and ‘fresh challenges’. But bear in mind how you would want to be kept informed if it was happening to you.  Use this knowledge to connect with your own workforce during these difficult times. It’s a good indicator to gauge your own level of engagement and how you yourself, with due consideration, would like to be treated.

Passion back in fashion

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Whether you’re running you own business, or responsible for being part of a wider team, it’s important to instil confidence in your capabilities to those around you. It’s crucial that you recognise the importance of passion for your organisation and of wanting it to succeed – even when you and it are faced with outside challenges.

 

Challenging times

There are many challenges a company can face in the course of its lifespan. From competition from rival businesses, to changes in the market and changes in demand for its product or services. Economic uncertainty can sometimes undermine confidence and positivity at work. It’s important not to let such aspects affect the work environment.

 

What comes naturally

There are many ways you can evoke passion at work. However, it’s something you can’t learn or teach. People either have it, or they don’t. It helps if you are doing a job that you love, in a field that you are knowledgeable and passionate about. It’s also important for staff to stay enthusiastic about their jobs. A thirst for knowledge or someone who enjoys their work is a huge benefit to any company. Such individuals should be retained, as their positive impact is a big asset. Having a passion for a job usually means that they are good at it too.

 

Part of the team

Employees who feel they contribute to the company and are not undervalued by their employers are also likely to feel more passionate about their role in the business.  If they take part in meetings and feel as though they can positively improve the company, they are more likely to be loyal and stick around too. Passionate employees will constantly be striving to improve themselves. If they enjoy it, they may not even know that they are achieving this. Reading up on industry developments, for enjoyment, or socialising with like-minded individuals, are good indicators that they have a passion for the sector. Such natural self-improvement is worth its weight in gold.

 

Dispelling doubts

It’s easy to get passionate about something you enjoy. However, if there are signs that enthusiasm is flagging, it could be an indication that it’s time for change. HR managers should look for signs in their staff that they may not be as happy or passionate as they once were. This could be the moment to engage with a career coach, to identify where their strengths and weaknesses are and areas where there is room for improvement. Dips in productivity or changes in behaviour are good indicators of doubts.

 

Coaching back on track

Career coaches can have a positive impact on a workforce in a variety of ways. Being able to communicate with someone who can identify and help staff is a big help to morale. Simply talking to someone about their job can sometimes instil passion. Or it can help staff reconnect with what made them enjoy a role in the first place. In challenging times and in challenging situations, such reassurance can make all the difference in terms of passion and positive morale boosts.

Communicating change to your organisation

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Rather than being an optional extra, internal communications plays an entirely central role in the success or failure of any organisation’s commitment to change. This is because change is always difficult territory to navigate. Comfort zones aren’t always easy to stretch and old habits die hard. There is a lot to consider but these general rules of thumb can help.

Establish the rationale

You need to know exactly why you are implementing the change, so that you can define your goals and give your change initiative credibility.

Create measurable goals

Having set goals will allow you to identify the success of your communications initiative during its implementation.

Establish a detailed plan of action

Plan out what needs to be said to who, when and how, to guide the implementation process.

Tailor your messages

Craft your messages to suit the different types of people involved in your organisation. These should be jargon-free and relevant to their line of work. Make sure everyone knows exactly what it is that is expected of them individually during and after the period of change.

Use opportunities to communicate face-to-face

This method builds trust and is immeasurably more effective than any other form of communication. It is especially important with issues that directly impact people’s work and life.

Involve senior officials in the communications process

Messages of change are much more credible and more likely to be accepted when given from the very top of the organisation.

Keep all messages consistent

Mixed messages are likely to discredit change as people will become confused, paving the way towards frustration and cynicism.

Keep messages regular

People need to be kept updated about change frequently. This can be done most effectively by regular face-to-face meetings, complemented by other methods such as emails, bulletins and newsletters.

Gather feedback and listen to employees

This will allow you to measure the success of your change initiative. It also builds trust and defuses potential problems before they can become serious issues.

The inside scoop on outplacement

Research has demonstrated that losing your job is one of the most stressful experiences a person can go through, outside of death and divorce. However, we may all encounter outplacement at some point in our working lives, so it’s useful to understand the basics of how it works.

Changes over time

Outplacement is a support service that is offered by companies to help their former employees find new posts. The reasons why staff may receive outplacement can be many and varied. For instance, they can include changes due to business circumstances or restructuring.  Likewise, expansion and relocation. A specialist outplacement consultancy can provide the outplacement services. In most cases, these will be paid for and arranged by the employer. The outcomes are achieved usually through interview conversations, training materials and workshops.  As a result, these can be on a one-to-one basis, or in groups of all sizes. In addition, outplacement is also there to reassure the staff who remain at the company and stabilise the situation for the company as a whole.

The term ‘outplacement’ was first coined over 30 years ago by James E. Challenger, the founder of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a Chicago-based career consultancy. Challenger created the concept of outplacement and devised the initial programs to implement it. Since then, outplacement has become a key component in many businesses’ strategy for management. In particular, with the increase in downsizing, stabilising, redundancies and layoffs that occurred, particularly during the 1980s and ‘90s.

Specialist advice

Outplacement specialists such as Career Evolution are run by industry experts. They are professional coaches and mentors. As a result, they have a great deal of experience and knowledge of how to approach employees who are undergoing periods of transition in their workplace, which are often not of their making. Those taking part in the sessions may be feeling resentful towards their former employers. In addition, they may feel resentment towards those carrying out the outplacement too.

They may need assistance to cope with change. Therefore, that is why it is important that advisors have backgrounds in outplacement, career transition, career management and coaching. Consequently, some outplacement consultancies also offer psychological support in appropriate cases. Most importantly, they always have their clients’ best interests at heart.      

Future options

Topics under discussion in outplacement sessions may include such useful and practical aspects as career guidance, career evaluation and job search skills.  In addition, CV writing, preparing and rehearsing for an interview, and negotiating skills. They may also help participants develop networks of contacts, both online and in person. In most instances, through social media and networking sessions. The period of transition will very much guide the length of time that the outplacement guidance process will take, from a few weeks to months.

It’s not just about finding a new job for outplaced staff. Future options can also include starting their own business, becoming self-employed or even retiring. In some cases, clients may find that a portfolio career may suit them better.  This would include several part-time or consultancy roles that integrate together into a whole, sometimes across a variety of sectors. Outplacement takes on even greater importance in the current economic climate, which is delivering its own set of challenges and uncertainties. Above all, being aware of the options for your staff and how they can benefit from outplacement is something that every company should consider.

Maintaining morale

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In times of structural and managerial change, always be aware of your workforce’s wellbeing. Sometimes it’s not apparent what the impact periods of major change can have on your staff, but the emotional toll is often the unseen price of adjustment. It’s vital that you know and recognise the signs of slipping, disrupted or low morale.  

Get the balance right

Morale is a vital part of any company. Maintaining good morale is healthy for any workforce and the make-up of your staff will be a deciding factor in how well morale is retained. Good morale tends to improve and maintain productivity, enhance creativity and encourage collaboration. Laughter and a good atmosphere in the workplace has a range of benefits, including such positive factors as improved general wellbeing and good communication. Don’t chat, laugh and joke all day, but sometimes informality and humour can take toil out of the workplace environment. Give your people a morale boost: reward success, instil pride and acknowledge when things are going well. It’s not always easy – especially during transitional periods – to do this.

Play for the team

Not everyone will want to look on the bright side. But try not to make things worse than they are either. Divisions in a team, or divisive action within an office or other work environment, can only lead to impacts on morale in the long term. A healthy sense of competition often leads to favourable outcomes, but unhealthy troublemakers only sow discord. If your staff don’t seem to enjoy being at work, and if their work is suffering as a result, then the signs probably indicate that there’s something wrong with their morale. 

Adapt to change

Individual members of staff don’t have to be the ones who are actually experiencing the change. Comings and goings in the workplace instigate their own set of challenges, as even minor changes bring about behavioural and productive fluctuations. If your team is directly or indirectly affected by change, it can be influenced in many different ways. Low self-esteem and stress are two of the ways wavering morale can impact your employees, and both are not easy emotional conditions to address in a straightforward way.

Strength and purpose

During periods of transition, it’s important not to lose sight of where your employees’ strengths lie. As you take your workforce in new directions, make sure that good morale is at the core of your endeavours. Look from an optimistic perspective at the changes, for them and for you, and use these as positives to shape their career evolution. Be mindful that although morale is difficult to sustain at a high level in times of uncertainty, it is also something that is ignored only at your peril.

Selling to a sophisticated market

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Coaching is an effective tool in career advancement but is an unregulated industry and it’s important that you choose your coach carefully. With more and more HR professionals having coaching qualifications and being familiar with the coaching process themselves, its still important to remember some of the key things to look for when outsourcing additional coaching expertise.

Picking the right coach for your company and the outcomes you are striving for are an important stage in the process. Career coaches offer a variety of options when it comes to coaching styles, with different skillsets and areas of expertise to suit different clients.

Experience is key

With increasing numbers of coaches promoting their services, you shouldn’t underestimate the importance of knowledge and expertise. There are business-focused executive coaches available, with 1000s of hours of experience. Some of them will have impressive track records in corporate line management. Many will hold widely-recognised coaching qualifications and accreditations.

Among other attributes to look out for are coaches who demonstrate their experience of using assessment tools and psychometrics. They should also have worked in a wide range of functions and sectors. Do your research to find the career coach that best matches your company’s ethos and ambitions.

It’s a matter of principals

Ideally you want to be working with a career coach who has business experience, focus and involvement. Coaching programmes need to ensure clients’ coaching goals are aligned with organisational objectives, and that these objectives are agreed with their direct manager and/or HR.

Coaching is a learning process that takes place over time and through reflection and action. It’s not something that happens instantly and shouldn’t be treated as such. You need to recognise that coaching is appropriate at any organisational level or position – no one is beyond the benefits of coaching, but choosing the right fit is imperative. In today’s complex and ambiguous business environment, career coaching offers a space to think and develop solutions outside the bubble of day-to-day life. It also offers the chance to see the bigger picture and define the principals that are important to those undergoing the coaching process.  

Knowledge of the business

There is a wide range of coaching approaches, methods and tools, such as Executive Coaching, or Individual and Team Coaching. Confidentiality and coaching ethics are also of paramount importance, as are data security and privacy. Make sure that the coach you choose to work with can demonstrate the ones important to you. With so many unregulated or underqualified coaches out there, choose carefully. It’s worth checking, for example, if they adhere to the stringent Global Code of Ethics, via the European Mentoring and Coaching Council, or the International Coach Federation. The more you can find out about your career coach when selecting one, the better the outcomes will be in the long-term.

Top tips for getting your job application noticed

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With the ongoing government policy of austerity in the UK and uncertain and challenging economic conditions in many sectors, job hunting has become increasingly difficult across the board. Employers typically face a bombardment of applications and unfortunately the great majority of them never get read. Here we have listed a few tips which can help prospective job seekers with that necessary edge.

Take a targeted approach

As nobody is qualified to do every job under the sun, it’s important that you focus on applying for positions which you are best suited to. A targeted approach to job hunting involves picking a small handful of positions to work with every week and taking the time to tailor both your CV and cover letter to each one. Use research where appropriate and personalise the letter.

Write in Plain English

Employers generally want a candidate selection process to be as hassle-free as possible and your choice of language can help with this. Writing an application in the simplest form can be a welcome breath of fresh air from reading clichéd phrases such as, say, being ‘innovative’ or having a ‘flair for creativity’.  Giving concrete examples of achievements instead of potentially meaningless statements such as these is good practice.

Tell a clear and characterful story

It’s easy to forget all the minutiae that comes with every job application, but employers will remember a story. You should present your work experience as a natural, progressive journey to the position which you are applying for. A little bit of creativity can also be used to emphasise passion for your work.

Be brief

Time taken to read job applications is incredibly short and an employer is likely to spend no longer than a few seconds skimming over it. This means that the writing style you use must be clear and concise. Every detail within your CV and cover letter should accurately focus on what your potential employer is looking for. Work experience should be bullet-pointed using succinct sentences.

Network

Whilst all of the above tips can be very helpful, networking is often still the most effective way of gaining employment. Nothing beats a trusted recommendation from a close friend or former colleague of the employer.  It is always worth asking around to see what is available, as well as who might be worth approaching speculatively.

THE DAWN OF A NEW DECADE

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Whenever we pass significant milestones, be they personal or historical, we often reflect on what we have achieved. Significant personal ones are the passing years of wedding anniversaries or birthdays, while we often look at how long we have worked somewhere, in a certain role, as being a good way of seeing how our career path has advanced. The beginning of a new decade is one of those important milestones that cause such reflection and assessment, and offers time for us to re-evaluate, in terms of own career and that of our organisation.   

The career landscape

The last decade of business has seen a lot of transition, with technology in particular having a significant impact on working methods. The shape of employment is changing, with to some extent a greater degree of flexibility on offer. There is no longer a need to work for a single company, or sometimes even in an office environment at all, and this allows both employers and employees different approaches to their working lives. This can be factored into your thoughts and decisions, when thinking about where your company stands at the start of a new decade. For many, the traditional career trajectory is one that suits their wellbeing much better. The traditional model – of long-term employment and steady career progression – offers stability and security, but does it always offer fulfilment?

New challenges

Say you have been working at the same place for the last 10 years, running a successful company or guiding staff as a HR manager. Has it brought you and the company the rewards it should, or the hard work put in by everyone has deserved? The next significant question is, if change is in the offing, what next? If your company is in a period of transition, you may be looking at your or your team’s future.  This is a good time to think about what you want and what your company needs. Executive coaching can enable leaders to develop greater self-awareness, whilst building capability and effectiveness. Team coaching works with the whole team to help improve their collective performance and how they interact and work together.

Career Evolution

It many instances, it makes a great deal of sense of connect with a career coach, who may be able to help you or your business in new, exciting and profitable directions. Positive change can make a real difference to our working lives. Merely discussing how employees feel and what they want to achieve can bring focus and clarity to a situation. A coach will provide options and advice on where you and your team’s strengths and weaknesses lie, and how you can use them to you best advantage.  If you think a coach or mentor can help you find the next steps on a career path, then contact Career Evolution today. Together we can make the next decade your business’s best.