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New Directions

How you implement a change is as important as the change itself.

This story appears in the August 1999 issue of Entrepreneur. Subscribe »

No matter how important a change in one of your company policies might be, how you implement the new process is critical to whether your employees will accept it. "It's important your employees not feel something is being done to them that they have absolutely no choice about--whether or not that's actually the case," says Peggy Isaacson, president of Peggy Isaacson & Associates, a consulting firm in , . "How you make the announcement and schedule the change has a lot to do with how it will be accepted and embraced by your employees. Keep in mind, too, that people tend to be uncomfortable with change, even when it may be to their benefit. You want to implement new policies in ways that will make the changes as painless as possible."

Making an unwelcome change can result in low among your employees, a decline in and even unnecessary turnover. "The primary keys are and time," says Isaacson. "Communicate with every affected employee so they understand exactly what you're doing, why you're doing it, and what the impact will be on them personally and on the company overall. Then, as you implement the new policy, allow enough time for people to get used to whatever is going to be different. During the transition period, encourage your employees to give you . And be alert to signs of trouble: any general attitude shifts, perhaps increases in absenteeism or other signals that employees are dissatisfied."

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