You have a new strategy and your mission is clear, then why aren't your employees excited? Although it took a lot of work to revamp your vision, the truth is, that's only the beginning. Your organization must now prepare to manage the cultural aftermath.

Unlike typical change management processes, cultural change is more complex. In addition to communicating purpose, planning, and allocating resources, you must also account for employee engagement. (A hard thing to accomplish especially in the midst of change.) So how do you strengthen your employees' morale while simultaneously dealing with ambiguity? You focus on leveraging the following emotional intelligence tips from EQ guru, Jen Shirkani.

1. "Give your employees an outlet and include them."

Change is much easier to accept when you feel a part of it, rather than affected by it. Giving your employees an outlet to voice their concerns will simultaneously address ambiguity and preserve engagement. These outlets could come in the form of blogs, wikis, open forums, town halls or team meetings. In the midst of change, the key is finding ways to let your employees be in control and have freedom of expression.

Now, this does not mean that our new employees need to be in control 100 percent of the time--it means that they need to feel a sense of control. This comes from understanding how things work, which means being transparent, clarifying decisions, and including them in your plans. Allow them to have a voice. These may seem like minuscule ideas, but the cumulative effect will result in more engaged and motivated employees.

2. "Tell them what's in it for them."

Make sure that the impending anxiety and additional effort is outweighed by the benefits. This is when a great motivational speech would come in handy.

"What's great about emotional intelligence, is that it's reciprocal." - Shirkani

However, it takes someone to go first. Tell a story, motivate, share optimism and alleviate stress. Prove that the change is in the best interest of all parties involved. Prove that you've made your employees a priority and that they are not being overlooked.

3. "Address the elephant in the room."

Let's face it, you don't wake up one day and decide that it's time for a cultural change. Typically, it's a direct result of a new strategy and vision, new leadership, or a new market challenge. Regardless, people need to understand why. Without an explanation, you'll cause confusion which leads to rejection. Instead, address the elephant in the room and move on. The truth is, change brings new opportunities and mobility. Who wouldn't get excited about that?

4. "Provide a rationale that's human."

In plain English, be relatable. Make sure that you speak from the heart. As Shirkani would explain it, use "blog speak." Remove jargon and show emotion, empathy, and vulnerability. Change is scary, but we'll get through it together. As a result, you'll create a community - a group of "bought in" people.

"Creating a community means getting participants to think and act collectively, to set aside (or find ways to align) their own interests in favor of a common purpose, and to accept a degree of accountability." - Harvard Business Review

Many organizations can coordinate change objectively. Where they could improve is in anticipating the emotional intelligence side effects. The successful change includes subjectivity. It includes your employee's engagement.

Published on: Feb 23, 2017
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