Change can be scary. When employees know change is coming, whether it be a new merger, new management, a new benefits package, a new software system, a new headquarters or a new job title, they may not be able to focus on their job because they're so focused on the change and how it will affect them.
Change management is the ability to adapt to these changes. Offering change management training can help a company prepare, equip and support its staff in order to best adapt to changes for the benefit of both the employee and the employer.
Activities to Teach Change Management
Change management activities can range from games about change for groups of employees to therapy for individual workers. While there are an array of activities to teach change management, many companies start the process with free change management training games, as these are enough preparation for most employees. Most workers will find them to be enjoyable, and they do not cost anything.
However, it is important to make sure managers and HR representatives are readily available to help any individuals who have additional concerns or questions regarding a big upcoming change.
Cross Your Arms
This is one of the simplest change management activities, but it's also very effective. Simply ask all of your employees to cross their arms and get comfortable. Then tell them to cross their arms with the other arm on the top and get comfortable.
When they're done, talk about how even though both arm positions seem fundamentally the same, it still took most of them much longer to get comfortable the second time. Explain how once someone is comfortable with something, it can seem difficult to get comfortable with something else, even if the change itself isn't that major. Emphasize that while change may be difficult at first, that doesn't mean it's bad.
Choose Your Chair
This activity works best in a company where everyone has different styles of office chairs. Clear out a conference room or other large area without furniture and ask everyone to bring their chairs in and then tell them to take a seat. Initially, they will probably choose to sit in their own chairs, but then tell them they must sit in someone else's chair. Once everyone's comfortable, tell them to try another chair and then repeat the process one or two more times.
After everyone has sat in three or more chairs, start a discussion about the activity. Ask if anyone found someone else's chair to be more comfortable, even if it only seems like the chair would be comfortable for a short amount of time. Remind them that they initially tried to sit in their own chair, but they might have found another chair that was more comfortable or found a new perspective on things by sitting in a chair that is higher or lower than their chair. Emphasize that while we're all comfortable with what we're used to, sometimes we might be surprised to find benefits in exploring the unknown.
Don't be too surprised if a few employees end up trading chairs after this activity. In fact, this could be a way to kick-start change, if even in a very minor way.
Ups and Downs of Change
Write up a list of change-related words, such as “transformation,” “implementation,” “transition,” “training,” “process change,” "alteration" and "conversion." You may also want to include some words or phrases related to the change you're planning to implement, such as "merger," "buy out" or "change of management." Ask your employees to stand in a line and then step forward if they feel the word is positive or backward if they feel it is negative. Then, have employees discuss why they stepped forward or backward and describe the positive and negative aspects of the word.
After discussing each word, have everyone get back in line again. Once you've gone through the whole list, ask employees whether they stepped forward or backward more often. Observe that those who stepped forward more often tend to be more positive toward change, while those who stepped backward are more resistant to it. Ask if they were aware of how they felt or if this opened their eyes to beliefs they didn't know they had.
Remind employees that change is a part of life and that having an open mind and being positive about change will probably make them happier and more comfortable as they go through changes in life. Finally, remind the group that those who are having a hard time adapting to changes in the company are welcome to talk to management or HR whenever they need a little help.
The Four P's
This is one of the greatest change management activities for leaders who are hoping to help employees better understand how the change will affect them and who wish to answer any questions about a change before it takes place, ideally reducing resistance to the changes. On a white board or large piece of paper big enough for everyone to see, draw four columns and label them "project, purpose, particulars and people." Ask your group to help you fill out the chart one column at a time by saying how the upcoming change will affect each of the P's.
Under the project column, list the upcoming changes. For the purpose column, list why the changes are being made. The particulars section should describe how the changes will be implemented, and the people section will describe which people will implement the change or be affected by it.
For example, if the project is setting up a new time-card system, then the purpose entries could be about how it makes the process smoother for payroll, ensuring fewer errors take place and making it easier to clock in. In this case, the particulars would be installing the new software on employee computers and training employees to use it. The people section would state that the IT department needs to install the software, the employees need to learn how to use it, management needs to review the time cards to ensure everyone is filling things out properly and the payroll department needs to use the software to calculate paychecks while reviewing the hours reported to make sure things are working properly.
Major Changes in Life
Partner up everyone in your group and then ask them to write down five major changes they have gone through in their life (reminding them, of course, that they only have to share things about which they feel comfortable). Then, ask them to discuss what was difficult about each change, how they and their loved ones felt about the change and how they overcame the change (including how others helped them during the transition).
Once the groups have discussed the changes in their lives, ask the partners to discuss whether the changes they have gone through have ever improved their lives, if they have learned anything about how to go through a major change and if they learned any lessons by listening to their partner's stories.