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The Emotional Employee: When Change Comes to the Workplace. Presented by: Swan Khanna-Salehi EASE@Work Clinical Manager. Change isn’t necessarily bad, but it is scary. Change is Change by Any Name. Whatever the reason for change in the workplace the economy poor decision-making

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The Emotional Employee: When Change Comes to the Workplace

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The Emotional Employee:When Change Comes to the Workplace

Presented by:

Swan Khanna-Salehi

EASE@Work Clinical Manager

Change isn’t necessarily bad, but it is scary.

Change is Change by Any Name

Whatever the reason for change in the workplace

  • the economy

  • poor decision-making

  • budget cuts

  • mergers

  • out-sourcing

  • downsizing

  • reorganization

  • etc…

    Simply complaining, ranting or making accusations only goes so far. At some point, employees need to move off the problem and consider solutions and positive responses to change. As a manager, you can help them through change.

Phases of Change Acceptance

Another way to look at it…

Let’s talk about the phases of change acceptance…

Stage 1 - Loss

  • Feel the need for safety.

  • Whether we think the change is good or bad, there is still a sense of loss for what was.

  • Denial may be strong because we don’t want to acknowledge that things are changing or the effect it will have on our lives/work.

Let’s talk about the phases of change acceptance…

Stage 2 – Doubt/Anger/Resentment

  • Feel skeptical – How do we know things will work out?

  • May experience anger – this is a reaction to the uncertainty of the situation.

  • Trust issues may emerge – we don’t trust “the messenger,” distrust leaders/co-workers…feeling of vertigo in not knowing who or what information to trust.

Let’s talk about the phases of change acceptance…

Stage 3 – Discomfort/Resistance

  • Resistance can take different forms in an attempt to sabotage the change.

  • Some resistances include: negative attitude, irritability, slow downs in work, absenteeism, sloppy performance, blatant opposition.

  • Distinguish between denial and resistance: Denial may produce a lack of awareness or confusion, while resistance occurs after making a negative judgment of the change.

Let’s talk about the phases of change acceptance…

Transition/Danger Zone

At this point, we either chose to move forward and begin adapting to and accepting change, or we fall back to our feelings in stage 1 and repeat the cycle.

If we move forward…

Let’s talk about the phases of change acceptance…

Stage 4 – Adaptation/Discovery

  • We begin to realize our choices related to the change.

  • The change begins to be accepted, and in some cases, welcomed.

  • People learn methods to implement the change effectively for themselves and others.

Let’s talk about the phases of change acceptance…

Stage 5 - Involvement

  • We begin to see the benefits of change.

  • We actively participate in the change by making contributions and suggestions, initiating work independently, and come to see the change as “the way it is.”

  • Things become more stable.

Common causes of supervisor/employee conflict:

  • Poor communication

  • Disrespect/undermining authority

  • Betrayal of trust

  • Excessive negative feedback from manager

  • Unreasonable demands made by managers

  • General harassment – sexual, bullying

  • Failure of a manager to take disciplinary action when needed

  • Micromanaged environment with little opportunity for decision making

Communication is Key…

…to helping employees cope with change in the workplace.

Pay Attention to Body Language

*Use the 10-foot rule to assess non-verbals.

Seek to Understand

  • Determine if the issue IS or IS NOT work related.

    Extreme behavior may warrant a referral or FFD assessment.

  • Acknowledge how the person is feeling.

  • Show empathy.

    (But be sure to maintain boundaries.)

Management can help employees navigate workplace change by:

  • Communicating often and honestly.

    Keep your staff well-informed about what is happening and how that will affect them. Don’t hide vital information or create a “spin” different from the reality. If you’re going through tough times, let your employees know it and discuss the strategies in place to stay afloat.

  • Encourage creativity in meeting new challenges.

    Organizations need to be innovative and creative to meet challenges, manage through the current situation and be ready for future growth. Share ideas for addressing changes and challenges.

  • Treat everyone with respect.

    The effects of trying economic times are not limited to the workplace. Employees may be under stress from situations outside the workplace. Making sure everyone is treated fairly and inquiring about the well-being of your staff will let employees know that you care and that they are not working for a “machine.”

Summary of Supervisory Guidelines

Focus on behavior

  • Observe

  • Document

    Confront and Support the Employee

  • Don’t diagnose

  • Use documentation

    Follow Through

  • Monitor and document

  • Be consistent

Remember - Change is a Process:We need to keep up and move through it

  • Adjust your expectations

  • Look at the “big picture”

  • Identify what is in your control and what is not

  • Check your attitude

  • Review your options

  • Establish a support system

  • Prioritize

  • Stay flexible

  • Strive to maintain balance and perspective, but give yourself a break if you feel overwhelmed

Remember – Problems can be personal

  • Acknowledge what the employee is going through

  • Allow the employee to grieve

  • Maintain boundaries

  • Be prepared for ups and downs

The Impact of the Holidays

Emotions often escalate due to:

  • Family dynamics

  • Financial pressures

  • Over committing

  • Recent or past losses of loved ones

  • Heightened binging or self-medicating

Take Care of Yourself

  • Get adequate sleep

  • Eat nutritious meals/limit caffeine

  • Exercise regularly

  • Take time out to relax and “play”

  • Discover the restorative effects/the beauty of nature

Case Studies

  • Samantha, who used to be very compatible has been at increasing odds with co-workers. You just observed her break down in tears in front of another co-worker. You’ve also heard a few employees chatter that she recently got evicted. What should you do?

  • Your employee begins her shift at 7:00 a.m.  She doesn’t show. You call your employee's cell at 8:00, and she answers the phone sleepily and seems confused by your call.  What do you do?  How would you "manage" in this situation?


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  • Consultation

  • Assessment and Referral

  • Case Monitoring

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and management of difficult situations...

Call EASE@Work…we can help!

216.241.3273 or 800.521.3273

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