Moving: Turning insecurity into enthusiasm

In the past few months, I’ve been involved in two moving projects – strange mandates for a firm specializing in change management, you might think. Except…

  • While 60% of people move to try to improve their lot (Statistics Canada, 1999), 76% of them still consider it a major source of stress (TNS Sofres survey, January 2006).
  • This stress risks transforming a positive event into a real nightmare, which can totally destroy any enthusiasm that would normally go along with a life-improving opportunity.

The reality is that for a lot of people, the prospect of moving leads to worries about losing their sense of comfort and having to change their habits, which can overshadow the benefits of integrating a more enjoyable workspace.

So how can you transform this insecurity into enthusiasm? Through solid transition management, with an emphasis on human considerations. That means getting all stakeholders to participate in the project, in order to get their buy-in.

This change management process must be as methodical as our CAPTE approach, which contains several components that we feel are indispensible in this type of context:

  1. Identifying the stakeholders. It’s important to know who will be affected by the change, to evaluate the level of impact on each person, and to determine how much influence each stakeholder can potentially have throughout the project.
  2. Analyzing what impact the move will have on these people. The level of impact manifests itself through 6 known dimensions: work organization, skills & knowledge, tools & technologies, culture, organizational structure, and environment. For each of these dimensions, you must identify appropriate actions to minimize the impact of the change in workplace.
  3. Analyzing preoccupations. This involves identifying the phases of concern for all stakeholders, making sure you provide them with appropriate information and answers, and set up proper communication mechanisms for them to share their reactions, opinions and suggestions. Keep in mind that everyone reacts differently to a given situation.

For both moving projects that I was involved in, this planning process led to a lower level of stress among employees. We worked with project leaders to set up various committees responsible for specific tasks (i.e. visiting the new workplace before the move, organizing a welcome cocktail, etc.).

Employees got to discover their new work environment and familiarize themselves with it before the move, which made things much easier.

Moving projects shouldn’t be taken lightly. A common mistake is to assume that everyone will see it as good news and an improvement to their existing work environment. In fact, any move involves an important amount of stress, and companies have a vested interest in neutralizing it before D-Day. After all, better safe than sorry: reacting after the fact will only entail organizational deficits and a decrease in workplace efficiency, all directly related to the shock of change.