The journey may vary in time-lapsed for any particular individual, however the emotions felt are the same; moving from shock and denial, through anger and blame, self-blame and bargaining, depression and finally acceptance. The changes being implemented during the Covid-19 pandemic are in the majority perceived as negative for an employee, however a manager may also expect a similar behaviour path after presenting a positive initiative to a colleague or team.
Firstly, a business owner or manager should not be surprised that news of redundancies, dismissals, role changes or ways of working are met with shock and denial by the employee. What seems obvious and inevitable to a strategist may still catch someone by surprise, particularly one that may bury their head in the sand or possesses a belief system that ‘it would never happen to them’. This behaviour may physically manifest in a burst of energy or working harder immediately after an announcement, usually as a display of defiance or in an effort to prove that the change is unnecessary. Any significant business announcement that directly affects the worker should therefore be carefully written, consistently delivered and not open to debate or discussion.
It is important for the employee to engage with the process in good time; this may move things on to dealing with questions of blame aimed at the business or individuals pragmatically, and to address emotions that may be running high. This is often best done in a one-to-one private meeting using excellent listening skills and empathy; it is vital that no attempts are made to mitigate the loss or devalue it for the colleague.
The critical point during the “downswing” of the curve is the skilful management of any bargaining and self-blame. When there is realisation that pushing against the change is futile, this is likely to result in high fluctuations in energy and morale, diminishing performance, sickness or mental health issues. A robust support structure should have been implemented, enhanced with active listening and understanding. The goal should be mitigating any further risks to the business as the process evolves. Positive management behaviours will expedite the movement towards acceptance of the new future and full engagement with the implementations carried out.
Considerable change in the workplace may present all manner of unexpected employment law issues that you may not have considered. If any of the points raised are affecting your business or you require help to put processes in place, call one of the team on 0161 884 1888 or email [email protected] for assistance.