4 Strategies to Help Employees “Feel Safe” During Organizational Change

Many leaders struggle to implement change, often wishing that their change efforts “could go a little faster, encounter less setback, and produce more new and lasting results.” Write for the harvard business reviewDeborah Rowland, Nicole Brauckmann, and Michael Thorley detail four strategies to help leaders “adeptly address people’s most basic need to feel safe in disruptive contexts.”

Deborah Rowland has personally led organizational change for large corporations, including Shell, Gucci Group, BBC around the worldand PepsiCo, and conducted original research in the field. Nicole Brauckmann helps organizations and individuals create the conditions for successful change as an executive and consultant. Michael Thorley works as an accountant, psychotherapist, executive psychological coach and coach supervisor.

The importance of “belonging”

According to the authors, “belonging” refers to a “survival-based belonging that allows every human child to reach adulthood and every human adult to function fully in collective environments to which they are loyal and whose they receive the identity”. Change poses a threat to this type of belonging.

In the authors’ research, the 12% of successful change stories included leaders who were particularly concerned about belonging. According to the authors, this kind of attention “meant leading with two counterintuitive moves.”

“On the one hand, these leaders took great care and took the time to make others feel safe, involved, and attached to meaningful work,” the authors note. “On the other hand, these leaders also recognized that change requires ‘disaffiliation,’ which includes enhancing others’ ability to detach from past patterns and the ability to distance oneself from a group of beliefs. strong to develop new solutions.

Ultimately, “excessive belonging hampers new futures,” the authors add.

4 Ways Leaders Can Help Employees “Feel Safe” During Organizational Change

According to the authors, there are four strategies leaders can use to balance the “belonging/unbelonging tightrope and skillfully addressing people’s most basic need to feel safe in disruptive contexts.”

1. Monitor your own emotions.

Even leaders can see their sense of belonging threatened during an organizational change. “This has a physiological impact on the prefrontal cortex as the seat of decision-making and the ability to move from a reactive impulse…to an intentional, creative response,” the authors write.

According to the authors, this type of neurochemical disruption can impact a person’s ability to make decisions, process information and form plans. “That’s why it’s vital for leaders to master a skill we call ‘being before doing’: adapting and regulating one’s own mental and emotional reactions to experiences,” the authors add.

2. Determine what people are trying to preserve (and why).

“Look beyond what appears to be resistance or inability to change and perceive what people cherish and protect,” the authors write. “It will allow you to address and challenge deep loyalties with insight and respect.”

3. Have difficult conversations.

To help team members see what needs to change — and why it needs to change — leaders need to “lead conversations that explore their discomfort and help them see this as a necessary companion to change,” the authors write.

4. Weigh ‘the price and the price of change.’

Ultimately, every significant organizational change has a price. “And because they’re human, leaders tend to overstate the benefits and understate the costs,” the authors note. “When you name and work with both, you can create real belonging, not false loyalty.” (Rowland et al., harvard business review8/4)

Aubrey L. Morgan