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

By Jacquelyn Lynn

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

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

Making an unwelcome change can result in low morale among youremployees, a decline in productivity and even unnecessary turnover."The primary keys are communication and time," saysIsaacson. "Communicate with every affected employee so theyunderstand exactly what you're doing, why you're doing it,and what the impact will be on them personally and on the companyoverall. Then, as you implement the new policy, allow enough timefor people to get used to whatever is going to be different. Duringthe transition period, encourage your employees to give youfeedback. And be alert to signs of trouble: any general attitudeshifts, perhaps increases in absenteeism or other signals thatemployees are dissatisfied."

The positive implementation of a policy actually begins with itsdevelopment, says Greg Hally, 35, co-owner of Hally O'TooleDesign, a full-service advertising agency in Salt Lake City."Even though our employees don't ultimately make the[policy] decisions, they feel ownership because we involve them inthe process," Hally says. Hally helps his employees understandwhat prompted the need for the policy, the reasoning that went intoits creation, and what ideas were accepted and rejected before thepolicy was finalized. With this foundation, implementation isusually only a simple matter of relaying the final details.

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