It's a cliché, “change is the only constant” but the reality is that the world and people don’t stand still.  Those businesses that want to succeed need to learn to change as well (unlike Blockbuster who refused to buy Netflix for a mere $50m, its CEO utterly convinced that VHS would live forever).

The thing is that while businesses often need to change, it can be a time of turmoil and uncertainty for employees. Why?  Fear of the unknown, a sense of loss of control, low trust, doubts, uncertainty, fear of failure, we are only human.

A well-managed change can ensure that even if difficult decisions are made, you come through it as a company that is well-adapted and excited for the future. A poorly managed change will have long-term impacts on productivity and employee turnover and will risk you losing the hearts and minds of good people.

Managing change is complex (there is a reason they write so many books about it!).  There are some key basics which will set you on the path to taking your employees on the change journey in a way where it feels more like a nice day trip in the country, than a white-knuckle roller coaster where no one is sure if they are going to make it to the end.

No surprise that the biggest thing is to manage communication well. Clue everyone in about what's happening as soon as you realistically can. Don’t just give them the minimum, tell them why it’s happening, what the desired outcome is, and how it will be happening.  The 'why' matters, because once folks get that, the 'how' starts to fall into place.

If you don’t know something yet, be honest about that. If there are still things to work out, acknowledge them and explain when you think you will know more, and what steps you are taking to fill the gap. It doesn’t help to do the communications equivalent of waving something shiny at employees hoping they won’t notice things you don’t want them to. Your worst-case scenario is in the absence of information, people start to gossip and speculate.

If you have timelines, share them, and if they shift, tell people. When people are worried, things that may seem small to you as leaders when you have the big picture such as chat happening a day late, can have a huge impact on others. If you say you will do something, do it, or tell people that you aren’t and why.

Communicating change well is not about “telling” it is communication both ways. It’s listening, asking questions, involving them, hearing feedback, understanding what people are thinking and actively reacting to those things.

Managing change well isn’t about having all the answers (in fact being open to others' views is important if you want people to feel included), but it is about positive communication, not ignoring the difficult things and hoping no one will notice, and sharing your plans so people have faith in the process and feel like you are taking them with you, not dragging them behind!