Fortunately, C-Stores employees are quite used to change. Prices, legislation, and products change often and sometimes every day. Anyone who has worked in a C-Store company, for any amount of time, is never shocked with change. However there are some changes that are bigger than most. These are the changes to the core things you have done for years to run your business that may no longer working. That is when discomfort can be expected in a C-Store Operation, or anywhere. Our company builds software for C-Stores that and often requires these type of changes. We are often asked, “How can we make a change if we do not want our employees to feel any discomfort?” The realistic answer is that it can’t be done. While you may not be able to eliminate it, there are things you can do to get your employees past it.
EXPLAIN WHY THE CHANGE IS HAPPENING
Though it is natural for them to do so, don’t let employees internalize the situation. Immediately explain what used to work simply no longer does. Explain the problems your company has in your current situation that made a change necessary. It is easier to accept the decision when one has an understanding of why the change is happening. Also tell them what the consequences would be without the change.
TELL THEM HOW THE CHANGE WILL IMPACT THEM
The next normal reaction most people have will be wondering how the change will impact them. Rarely do they first look for the change benefit. Let’s look at a simple example of putting in a new soda machine that has multiple flavors that can be added to each soda. You are putting it there to compete with the store across the street however, it will require more cleaning. Their first thought may be as you jump ahead to explain the benefits may be “How much harder is this modern machine going to be to clean?” and will not be, “Cool, we can compete better”. You will want to explain the extra effort of course but, explain the contribution they will be making to the benefit of this change and relay what will be easier because of them. Acknowledge that they will be taking an important role and contributing to the solution.
ACKNOWLEDGE THEIR DISCOMFORT
Empathize with their feelings at the time. You probably had the same feelings when you decided to make the change. Explain how you worked it through by looking at the solutions in more depth to understand, it really wasn’t a bad change and that the benefits of making it, make sense. When you walk them through your reasoning, they probably will come to the same conclusion. If they know you felt the same at first, they will be more willing to hear your reasoning.
PAINT THE ROSY PICTURE THE CHANGE WILL PROVIDE
Now they are prepared to hear the benefits to you and them that the change will provide. They will probably even agree it is a great one. Talk about the pains that will be eliminated and what will be better. Certainly let them know that you earnestly feel that you made the right decision for their benefit as well as your own.
So the next time you are asked to make a change, then asked not to scare anyone, just turn the question around and ask them how comfortable they would be without changing.