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When Change Happens: Celebrating a Fresh Start

Coffee Station

Photo by Patricia M. Porter

If you have been reading my latest blog posts on managing change, you might wonder how the new neighborhood coffee house is doing since they opened. La Taza Java Coffee house re-opened in early July under a new owner, Corrina Perez. Corinna, a regular customer of La Taza for years, like myself, made a big leap of faith and a decision to keep our local gathering place from closing forever. With anticipation, I stepped into the shop, it had familiarity, and yet it changed. Things were different. It had a fresh and clean look, a wall removed creating an open feel, and they chose a local artist to feature her paintings along the walls. Even the coffee beans and food product lines changed. Corrina is all about partnerships and community building which means fresh bagels from another locally and family owned business, Bagel Factory. I recall feeling good about the changes, and Corrina greeted me warmly as I entered the shop. I even saw familiar faces, so it felt comforting.

With any change and transition, we first need to recognize the past before accepting and celebrating the new. The local customers along with the previous owner, Judy Hanley, hosted a goodbye party. Then, you know from my last blog post When Change Happens: Maneuvering Through The Unknown that there is a second transition with a period of confusion, delay and sometimes lack of communication. Once we move through this zone, then the path becomes clearer. In the third transition of change management, we engage in celebrating a fresh start. This beginning comes with new systems or ways of doing things. For example, Corrina set up a self-serve coffee station along with fresh cold brew coffee. In the past, I would run a tab paid in advance. Although Corrina did not have a system in place for this, she immediately inquired about this process and demonstrated a desire to understand and meet the needs of her customers. She is now considering a couple of options for frequent coffee drinkers. As I approached the self-serve coffee station, I lightly joked with another long-time customer that it would take some visits to learn the revised ways and taste the new products.

What does it take to implement new changes in your life or business successfully?

  • Recognize everyone transitions at a different pace with some embracing change quickly, others reluctantly moving forward and yet a few individuals refusing to let go of the traditional ways.
  • Keep listening for concerns, unmet needs, and confusion. Acknowledge for that individual what you heard as important to them.
  • Be honest and transparent in your communications. It is critical to moving through the usual chaos that comes with big
  • Check and change your attitude. Ruminating in negativity keeps you stuck in the past. Demonstrating a neutral or positive attitude helps you move forward through the transitions.
  • Show You might be super excited about the fresh start and wonder why everyone is not experiencing the same excitement. Be curious, ask questions such as “What is keeping you back there?” or “What are you giving away with this new change?”

Celebrating a fresh start is more about a psychological shift in how we think and feel about the change. Mark the occasion with another event like a celebratory gathering with friends or family, a ribbon-cutting ceremony, and in the case of La Taza Java Coffee House, an Open House to announce to the community, we are here and ready to serve you. Stay tuned at La Taza Java Coffee House Facebook page for the Open House event.

Patricia M. Porter, LCSW

Conflict Management Expert

 

 

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The Blockage Between Upper Management and Employees: Poor Communication and How to Improve It

communication.jpegI have had the experience of working in several organizations that despite having competent employees, financial means, and a solid customer base have failed to achieve their goals ultimately. These organizations are riddled with disorganization, frustration, and an overall negative atmosphere. Why might these previous employers of mine be experiencing these issues? A lack of communication between the Upper Management and its employees is a major cause. When those in leadership roles do not converse with their employees, those in lower paid positions feel frustrated, angry, and helpless leading to low workplace morale.

Mike Myatt a contributor to Forbes and leadership advisor points out, “If you reflect back upon conflicts you have encountered over the years, you’ll quickly recognize many of them resulted from a lack of information, poor information, no information, or misinformation.” I learned in my conflict management classes that the moment people stop communicating with one another the chance of resolution diminishes. However, if what is being communicated is omitting wrong or untrue information, conflicts will also rarely reach resolution.

Chris Joseph writer for Chron.com outlines four ways poor communication can cause conflict in the workplace.

  1. It can “[create] uncertainty.”
  2. It can cause issues when employees have to “[share] resources.”
  3. It can generate “poor teamwork.”
  4. It can spread “rumors and gossip.”

If communication issues such as these four examples continue to cause conflict and are not addressed, the overall business could be impaired. So why does poor communication continue to occur?

Miranda Brookins marketing professional and writer for Chron.com suggests six reasons, “Lack of leadership, unclear goals and duties, undertrained employees, limited feedback, employees disengaged, and virtual teams.” In previous organizations of which I have worked, one or more of these reasons have been the cause of poor communication.

How can companies improve communication in the workplace?

Inc. Staff from Inc.com suggests that an organization, “Create a culture. Above all else, to the extent possible, strive to be transparent and straightforward about the challenges of your business and even about your company’s financials. Such candor fosters trust and understanding”. A contention I had with one of the companies for which I worked is when upper management came and spoke to us, the employees. They informed us that there were not going to be any layoffs, and then, a week later, laid off fifty people. From that point on, I did not trust anything upper management said to us. I could understand upper management not wanting to cause panic among its staff; however if they had been upfront about layoffs they would have maintained the respect and trust of their employees.

Tim Eisenhauer co-founder of Axero, “Checking in with how your employees are doing is an essential aspect of running a business that should never be overlooked.” He goes on to explain, “Open forums such as [a town hall meeting], not only serve to improve internal communication, but can also help to empower your employees.” I once worked for a company where one of the bosses, took the time to walk around and speak to us employees, He simply walked around and asked, “How is your day going?” I remember feeling like he truly cared about my well-being, which made me feel appreciated. In other organizations where the upper management did not take the time to converse with me or they talked down to me, I often felt less inclined to work hard for them.

Another suggestion by Tim Eisenhauer is instead of one-sided communication, “allow for communication to be a two-way street, as you’ll see a number of benefits by taking this approach.” In one company of which I worked, the upper management often told us what their plans were instead of consulting us for ideas or allowing an open door policy to air our grievances. Therefore, we only knew what was going on after plans have been set in motion. Employees may have useful knowledge that could contribute and push the company forward. By not accessing this human capital resource an organization is limiting their success.

For an organization to be successful they must communicate. When people understand what is expected of them and they feel appreciated, they tend to work together more efficiently with less stress and frustration. This only benefits the employees and the company. If I had an opportunity to speak with upper management with my previous employers, I would suggest communicating openly and honestly with their employees. In doing so, employees will feel valued, trust their employer, and ultimately have the desire to perform to the best of their abilities.

Abigail Clark

Graduate Student, University of Baltimore –

Negotiation and Conflict Management Program

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