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How Do We Help People Adapt to Dynamic Situations?

Some of our employees are set in their ways, and it's hard to persuade them to learn new things. What can we do as an organization to help them adapt to dynamic situations? <i>&#8212;Stuck in a Rut, learning and development specialist, Milan, Italy</i>

September 5, 2012

Dear Stuck in a Rut:

This situation likely requires an approach from two directions: 1) formal and informal training to help employees adapt more readily to change and embrace new behaviors and 2) an overall change-management framework that will drive broader impact.

We recommend you incorporate several necessary tools to help employees adapt to change and develop flexibility and resilience in dynamic environments.

  • Self-reflection: How do people perceive change that would affect them directly? What are they gaining? What are they losing? It is common that employees tend to see gains from change as longer term, corporate-driven and less desirable, and see immediate losses from change as personal and potentially threatening. Are they clear (and you) about the reality?
  • A clear vision for what is possible: Creative problem-solving skills can be developed in a learning environment through use of experiential, hands-on activities that help employees see the results they can achieve by using more creative solutions.
  • Stress-management techniques: Change drives stress and disruption, frequently taking people out of their comfort zone. An effective program acknowledges that stress is expected in a changing environment and will offer simple tips and techniques to effectively manage change-related stress.
  • Informal support mechanisms: Application of learning on the job is enhanced by providing job aids, providing coaching tools and guidance for supervisors, encouraging team problem-solving and providing informal networks in which learners can share successes.

Designing a change-management framework is essential to drive lasting change. This necessitates:

Sponsorship and communication. Managers must demonstrate clear support for training and related activities and provide ongoing communication about expectations for behavior change.

Experiences. It is important to provide people with access to experiences that will reinforce desired behaviors.

Reinforcement. The performance-assessment process must be adapted to reinforce new behaviors and expectations.

Recognition and rewards. They must be aligned with new behaviors and expected results.

Change leadership. Fundamentally, leaders are catalysts for change. Among other competencies, key leadership competencies for a dynamic, changing environment should be cultivated in the workplace. These include fostering involvement, developing consensus and commitment, managing dissent, encouraging innovation and risk-taking, and aligning individual and business goals.

SOURCE: Patricia Kunkel, Xerox Learning Services, Dallas

LEARN MORE: Read Changing Hearts and (Anxious) Minds.

The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.