Major business changes can be a difficult time for both associates and clients. Whether it’s a merger, acquisition or even just a major shift in company strategy, it’s natural for people to feel uncertain and even uneasy about the future.
So, how do we go about building trust among associates and clients during times of major business change? Here are a few key strategies that can make all the difference.
Embracing Tough Conversations
Willingness to have tough conversations leads to decisions that will drive the business forward. As leaders, it’s our job to set boundaries and make decisions that align with the company’s vision and values. Being a trusted partner to your employees or clients sometimes means telling them no. Saying no is not about being rigid or dismissive of others’ ideas—it’s about making strategic choices that will prioritize the organization’s long-term success. These tough conversations require empathy, respect and a focus on finding the right solution.
Lead with Empathy
Empathy is a powerful tool when it comes to building trust. During times of major change, it’s important that we lead with empathy and understand how our associates and clients are feeling. This means taking the time to lean in, listen to their concerns, acknowledge their emotions and show we care.
Also, encourage open dialogue and feedback through channels like town halls, employee surveys and informal client discussions. By keeping the lines of communication open, you’re able to build trust and ensure everyone feels heard and valued. Reach out to clients, as well, to offer personalized support and assistance. By showing you care about their well-being, you can build trust and strengthen your relationships.
A study on corporate transformations conducted by EY and Oxford University in 2021 found that in high-performing transformations, leadership positively correlated directly to the satisfaction of their teams.
In the survey, workers whose leaders remained positive throughout the duration of a change initiative began with slightly less positive emotions than their leaders at the onset but had 12 percentage points more positive emotions than their leaders by the end. Conversely, those whose leaders started out positively but soured throughout the journey resulted in a 13% increase in negative emotions.
As leaders, we set the tone. Rarely has a major change occurred without some level of adversity. It is our job to remain optimistic throughout the ups and downs of any transformation.
Follow Through on Commitments
One of the quickest ways to lose trust with employees or clients is by making commitments and then failing to follow through. During large-scale transformations, it’s important that we make commitments and then do everything in our power to follow through on them. This means setting realistic goals, communicating clearly about our plans and holding ourselves accountable for our actions.
Make sure to set clear goals and timelines for your business changes. Track your progress and hold regular check-ins to make sure you’re on track. By following through on your commitments, you’re able to build trust and show your associates and clients that you’re committed to their success.
Celebrate Successes Along the Way
Finally, it’s important to celebrate the successes along the way. It’s easy to get bogged down in the challenges and forget about the wins. However, celebrating personal and professional successes can help build momentum, boost morale and show everyone that you’re making progress.
By embracing tough conversations, leading with empathy and having a positive outlook—all while following through on your commitments—you will strengthen your relationships and move forward successfully.
I Power Seeds
Here are our takeaways and thoughts - pause and reflect, then nourish and grow!
I have recently gone through this in the company I work for and can attest to these strategies during challenging and significant business changes.