I agree with Rol, it sounds if change may have already taken place
so the preparation time is over. But there are other types of seminars
that can take place that will help the staff/employees. Perhaps the
following ideas will help you "heal" your staff and employees.
Most of us spend a great deal of time thinking about our actions and
reactions to different situations in the future. For instance when we jog
or workout we think about a dinner engagement that will occur in an hour,
when we listen to our voice mail we think about the implication to our
days work. We look for clues that will predict our actions and reactions.
We think of answers, of ideas we wish to express.
When this happens we are thinking in areas we can imagine because an
experience has told us what the "possibilities and probabilities are like
in this realm." It feels "familiar." Change, of any type, brings us into
areas that seem unfamiliar or "new" to us. Our mind has no "familiar
territory" to think in or to experience. When this happens, you will see
people in shock. Because there has been no preparation time, their mind
has had little or no time to prepare for this new territory and
consequently all of the fears of the "unknown territory" are coming into
play. If you think of a scenario where you have been in woods or a
shielded area that is unfamiliar to you, you will remember how your senses
heightened, you became alert and more aware of your surroundings. You
were in unfamiliar territory and looking for clues that would direct your
actions and reactions. This ability is probably as old as the human race
and is a survival technique that many of us urban dwellers find little use
for unless we are in a "bad part of town."
Shock is a state of stasis produced while the mind is trying to
accommodate to the "new information, new territory." There has been no
planning time, so the mind has little time to figure out actions and
reactions. It must now think immediately about this territory (territory
is defined as both physical and mental) and make a judgement about the
implications. Implications may include safety factors, social and self
development factors (such as career). All comfort of the immediate
familiar is taken away. Your ability to relate to your mental and physical
environment has had an immediate restructuring and you may not recognize
The typical statement of shock and change is "I can't believe this
happened, or is happening." This statement is indicative of the mind not
accepting or understanding the new territory it must work in at this time.
All well and good, to understand change, shock and the consequences of
being unprepared. But what can you now do to help employees?
What to do:
1) Seminars that help employees understand the consequences of change on
their jobs and work flow.
2) Managers who are willing to continue their routines. It is important
for managers during this initial phase to continue their routines as much
as possible. Be there on time, continue department meetings, continue
3) Employee and management meetings where employees talk about how they
can help facilitate the change and make it easier (for themselves). Allow
employees to "take stewardship" of their part of the change.
a) Ongoing communication, that keeps employees updated as to
progress and latest developments. Even if there are no developments,
communication that states "no new developments." This helps employees
feel more a part of the process and keeps speculation and fear at lower
point. Management often feels non-communications simply means that there
is nothing to communicate, staff and employees rarely see it this way.
They speculate that management is making more changes and does not have
time to communicate.
4) Safe environment where employees can express their anger, resentment
and fears openly (in meeting) without reprisal from management. There are
consultants who are very good at handling angry employees.
a) These sessions should be designed to disperse the anger and give
vent as well as give good constructive steps for employees to use to help
themselves. These sessions should not increase the anger or be allowed to
turn into "hate management sessions." That is the expression of anger
should be directed so that it does not increase their anger at those who
implemented the change.
5) Stress relievers. Stress is built because we live in the future or
past. By having employees concentrate on the here and now aspect of their
jobs and tasks you will automatically relieve a certain part of the
a)Teach them to meditate. Meditation does not have to be
religious in nature, just a method of centering the self. Have them stop
and "take deep breaths." We tend to breath shallow when we are stressful,
deep breaths help release the stress and force a centering of the
b)Journal writing, helps them pinpoint the real issues. For
instance, home life might be stressful at this point and their real
concern is the impact on home, not job.
c)Have employees identify other times of change and talk about how
they survived and in fact grew from those times. Positive reinforcement
of how this can cause growth for the individual as well as the company is
d) Physical movement helps de-tox the body of the chemicals and
hormones that are building up from the use of the adrenalin glands (fight
or flight reactions to change or new territory-fears). Getting rid of the
toxins in the body helps relieve the physical feelings of stress.
6) If there is downsizing, outplacement is a must. Help for all employees
in writing resumes, interview skills and planning. There are many good
companies who can be brought in to help with this. But, do not ignore the
small consultant who may be very knowledgeable and less expensive.
7) Help for those who must stay behind. There are a few and I mean a few,
consultants and firms that deal with "taking charge of your career within
corporate life." This will help the guilt of those who stay behind if
there is downsizing (and their fears of it happening to them).
8) Full library of reading that can be checked out. Articles and books,
on stress, change and survival personalities. Your local
university/college psychology department will be able to help with this.
Look for only those books which are helpful and uplifting. Make sure they
are holistic in nature.
Hope this is helpful.
Suzanne Deakins, Ph.D.
Change almost always brings about an area where we can
>Rose Wentz is looking for a change model. "I am looking for a model of
>organizational change that helps people understand how change is part of a
>normal growth and learning cycle. My agency is undergoing massive changes
>and many of the staff are in shock. I am providing some training for staff
>to help them beginning to understand the change and make their own plans
>on how to use change as a learning experience."
>I don't have a change model. I am interpreting from the short message,
>but it sounds as if the organization has surprised people with massive
>change, and people are in shock. This is not yet time for learning so
>much as understanding. That does not mean anything will change, that the
>organization will slow down the changes, but they appear to have already
>started on a bad note. Before it is time for understanding that it is
>really ok, first it is time to understand the shock and pain. Later will
>be the time to begin to learn.
> Rol Fessenden
> LL Bean
"C. Suzanne Deakins" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Learning-org -- An Internet Dialog on Learning Organizations For info: <email@example.com> -or- <http://world.std.com/~lo/>