Sophie Janke

Change Champions: Navigating Changes By Enhancing Employee Wellbeing With Sophie Janke

Change may be constant, but the pace of these changes in today’s market is moving even more rapidly than ever. We see this in how recent events take a toll on the people in our organization. And they are either not thriving at their work or leaving altogether. Sophie Janke, the Implementation Consultant for Gradar, believes we need to enhance employee wellbeing. That way, we become the kind of change champions that can support our people through the different challenges in our environment and the world. Sophie dives deep into having an individualized change model, the factors why people resist change, and the importance of communicating changes to our employees. She also shares her insights on the current layoffs happening in the country and what we can do to help employees navigate this change.

Change Champions: Navigating Changes By Enhancing Employee Wellbeing With Sophie Janke

I want to welcome everyone. We have a great speaker from Gradar. We’re going to be talking about enhancing employee well-being and specifically talking about change. There’s a lot of change that’s going on in the marketplace. We will be talking about that. Here’s a little background about the show and the purpose of what we’re trying to do here. Our mantra here is we’re trying to engage, energize, and elevate your employees and your company. We do that by bringing these innovative ideas and having some great speakers to elevate the overall practice of talent and rewards to give everyone a better workforce experience.

Here’s a bit about our hosts that are on here. We do have a few people that are not able to join. Here we have Howard. Howard Nizewitz is a compensation and total rewards systems professional. Howard has over 25 years of experience in the compensation and systems world. He comes well-recommended here at CompTeam. We also have Sumit Singla. Sumit is out of India. He has a lot of deep expertise in people strategies. He worked at a lot of very large consulting firms in the past. He’s out doing things on his own. We’re happy to have him as part of the CompTeam as well. Thank you, Sumit, for joining us.

Char Miller is our small business expert. She’s a serial entrepreneur, and her coaching practice is around career coaching and also HR practices. She’s a people expert and has deep expertise as a CHRO. Welcome, Char. Our expert contributor is Sophie Janke. She is from Gradar. She is an implementation consultant there but she has a deep amount of expertise in a lot of areas.

One of the pieces that Gradar is famous for is helping companies with their gender pay gap reporting and doing a very robust job evaluation process so that we can address a lot of those needs that we have and diversity, equity, and inclusion. Before Sophie joined Gradar as you can see in her bio, she studied Media, Business, and Psychology at a university. What university were you in? Is that in Berlin?

The university is called HMKW, Hochschule für Medien, Kommunikation und Wirtschaft, which translates into the University of Applied Science in Berlin.

Sophie, can you tell us a little bit about how you got involved with Gradar and your passions around the psychology field and so forth? How did you come about that?

I’m happy to do that. Maybe I’ll start with my studies. I have always had a big interest in how people differ from one another and how different their reactions are to specific things happening in their environment. It’s fundamental because most of us spend eight hours a day at work. We do spend most of our day in the workplace. It’s important to look at what we can do to make this an enjoyable experience for people and not something that they tick off from their day and say, “I’ve been to work. I’ve made my money to live,” but contribute something to the overall world or the society.

To do that, we need to look at what we can offer so that everyone thrives at work, goes to work, and enjoys doing that. That’s how I quickly realized I’m interested in looking at the psychological aspects of people, what motivates them, and why they have different personalities, and then transfer that to the workplace environment to see how we can support every single person in their work life to make them as productive as they can be and while doing that, also keep in mind their well-being and support them throughout everyday activities outside of work as well.

We really need to look at what we can offer so that everyone thrives at work. Click To Tweet

It’s an important topic. I don’t know how long we have been saying that the pace of change is increasing, but the reality is that it happens faster. We’re looking at the past few years. We have been going in this direction and that direction through the pandemic, the Great Resignation, and so forth. We’re dealing with the economy, the fallout in the economy, inflation, and potential layoffs that are going on across a lot of industries.

We have heard tons of layoffs that are going on in technology in the United States and so forth that people are dealing with. Still, even with layoffs, there are companies that are saying, “The employment market is still hot in some areas.” It’s a crazy pace that we’re dealing with. I’m thankful that you’re here to help us with this change and discuss the topic in detail, Sophie.

You’re welcome. Thanks for the introduction.

There are a lot of different types of change models. Char, I know that as an HR professional, you’re familiar with some of the traditional change models that have been in place. What are you familiar with?

I’m not going to sit here and list off every single change model, but I was sharing with Sophie that I’ve worked with healthcare systems that had so many change models that were going on in the healthcare system at any given time, change agents, project managers, and consultants to the point where it was chaos focusing on all the change models. Which one are we going to follow? Change is more rapid now than ever. I now work more as an entrepreneur.

These large executive industries are struggling with technology changes, layoffs, governmental changes, and Federal changes. It’s mind-boggling. In one of my companies, for example, the Federal changes were impacting one of my companies. It got to the point where we couldn’t keep up with the changes at all. We had to temporarily shut down to assure that we were compliant and legal, which impacted our employees and business operations. It’s extremely vital. We have to work smarter and better together. That’s my overall model.

If I can quickly add to this, it’s quite important to say that there are so many different change models. That is exactly because there’s no approach that works for every organization. There might be global problems that affect most organizations. However, how these changes are then brought into the organization and what the organization then changes internally is so different and unique from one organization to another. Every organization will have different resources and contexts. They can bring these changes to life or react to these changes.

It’s important to recognize as well as an organization and as a responsible person in an organization that there is no single model that you can google, research, and apply to your organization. Everything always has to be individualized to the situation of the organization, the size, and what people are employed there. It’s quite important to realize that there are millions of models out there that can be applied, but they always have to be taken with a pinch of salt.

PSF 46 | Employee Wellbeing

Employee Wellbeing: It’s really important to recognize as an organization and as a responsible person in an organization that there is no single model you can just Google that you can apply to your organization.


Even if it is one organization’s change, also every single department or function within that department has its separate types of challenges and changes from the logistics department to the materials management department, the sales department, and even the cleaning department. It could be any shape, form, or HR. Sumit, you’ve got an idea about change. What do you think?

There are lots of models floating around but typically, what I’ve seen how to adapt or customize to different departments is usually you will have people who are positive or happy about changes, which will be in the minority, maybe a couple of percent of people. It’s mostly people who are denying and saying, “This is not going to affect me,” or people who are angry saying, “It wasn’t broken. Why are they going around fixing it?”

Eventually, all of this leads to what’s called the paralysis space where people are in a state of limbo. Nobody knows what to do next. That’s where you start figuring out what’s right for your department because there are some people who would be like, “I’ll do what’s required to survive and not get thrown out.” It’s like what’s called quiet quitting. Another set of people would probably walk out on their own and say, “I didn’t sign up for this. We’re not going in the right direction. I’m leaving.”

The third category is people who start saying, “The change is here to stay. I might as well adapt to it.” Some of them start committing to that change. The idea for every department is to minimize the number of people who are trying to leave. The ones who are sitting on the fence, “I’ll wait, watch, and meanwhile survive,” are flipping them over into the ones who are willing to fight. The three reactions are fight, flight, and freeze. The idea is to maximize the ones who are willing to step up and take the change head-on.

That’s where change champions or evangelists help people see if not an entirely positive change. It could be a toxic merger or a takeover of an organization as we have seen, but how do you still make it positive for the people who are in there? It’s interesting to think about because, in the context of one of the current tech organizations that have been taken over, everyone is talking about the folks who have been laid off. No one is talking about the folks who have to stay there and deal with what seems to be a very toxic brand of leadership.

Sumit, from a lot of the points that you brought up, I’ve got so many ideas that I want to contribute, but I’m going to start by underlining one of the points that you have said. People love routines. That’s what they live for. They strive for routines every day, whether it’s at work, at home, or anything. It’s important to mention here that it doesn’t matter what type you are if you want to drive a change or not.

People or employees in an organization will only drive the change when they’re convinced that it’s only the right idea to reject the status quo. Even if members are not satisfied with the status quo, they need to see that whatever is changing will improve the situation for them. At this point, it’s important to communicate the changes and make sure that employees understand what they get out of this. What can improve for them, specifically when you introduce the change? What is the unique advantage that they can take away?

People or employees in an organization will really only drive the change when they're convinced that it's only right to reject the status quo. Click To Tweet

If they don’t understand that the status quo is not how we or an organization can continue, they will never support the change. That’s one step right at the beginning here. Always communicate why the change is happening and why it can’t stay the way it is, and make sure that your communication reaches every single employee because otherwise, you will not find these change champions that you were talking about, Sumit. That’s an important point here. That’s why I wanted to underline that as well.

That’s great. We’re going to talk about communication specifically because that’s core here, and Smith has a lot of things to talk about that. I want to go back to what you mentioned about routines. One thing I know is that when you were dealing with a catastrophic change, it could be something that happened that was very negative or impactful to a lot of people as a lot of changes.

You mentioned the importance of those routines and having certain anchors that they can rely on that brings them back to that normal space. A lot of us use exercise or meditation and things like this to be those anchors throughout the day but is that what you’re talking about, Sophie, when you’re mentioning routines?

Routine seeking is one of the subfactors that is important when we look at why people may resist change because they are seeking these routines. There are differences, and that’s what your overall topic is about. For everyone reading, to give a bit of background, I have done extensive research into why different personality types resist changes and what might cause them to come up with this resistance. Is that a disposition or an inclination to resist changes? Is that within behaviors? Can we change this resistance with context factors?

What I found after I’ve done this study is that the resistance to change that you would see in organizations is way more related to a person or an employee’s personality than it is to context factors. There are studies. I’m going to take this with caution. Let’s say it’s a bit less, but up to 70% of the changes that get introduced in organizations fail. That is because of poor management of that change.

PSF 46 | Employee Wellbeing

Employee Wellbeing: The resistance to change seen in organizations is way more related to a person or an employee’s personality than context factors.


That doesn’t necessarily mean that the change process itself is not managed well but that means that leaders and the ones driving and initiating the change are not open enough to see how people react to changes. It’s the management of emotions that we see that is failing a lot of the time. There’s not enough focus on the management of the reactions of single employees in the organization. That’s why this change often then fails. It’s not that the structure of the change or how the process unfolds is not managed well. It’s about how leaders react to these emotions.

To get back to your point, Sam, there are different personality types. Everyone has a different preference. There are personality types that are more open to changes from their upbringing and their personality. As we all know, we cannot change personalities. We can change factors that shape personalities, but we can’t change a personality itself. You will naturally find individuals within organizations that are more inclined to resist changes.

That is because they have more problems to deal with their emotions or reaction to change. When we talk about routine seeking specifically, there are individuals that are more routine seeking than others. For example, individuals with a high level of neuroticism within their personality are more routine seeking. What they need to be able to manage their emotions is to have the opportunity to come up with new routines in their everyday life.

The point I’m making here is we are all super different. One person might need that routine, and the other person says, “Every day, I’m going to rearrange my room because I need that new drive.” That’s the same in the workplace. We have individuals that say, “I want everything to stay as it was because that’s the only way I can work.” There are other individuals that say, “Why not try something new?” It’s important to customize or personalize a change process for employees and at least enable them to come up with routines when they are searching for them so that they can, in the end, drive the change.

That’s great, but how do we identify these? How do we know the different personality types that you’re mentioning here? When we’re getting ready for a big change, there are people that we want to make sure are secured. Maybe we’re doing a layoff. We can’t afford to lose those that are critical employees that we need to have in the workplace. How do we address this appropriately so that we plan effectively?

This is a bit of a tricky one because I could say, “We’re going to measure personalities at work, and then find out who is high in extroversion and neuroticism.” That’s not possible. First of all, you can’t collect this data on your employees. You also probably don’t want to collect this data on your employees. A lot of countries wouldn’t even allow you. Personalities are protected characteristics.

When how people differ in their personalities, I don’t think that should be brought into the organization. However, what we can do is ask people what they need. A lot of the time, employees are not even sure what is wrong with this change process. They have this emotional reaction to it. That ties back to the point about communication. It’s asking, “What is your biggest concern about this change? What can we do to support you? Do you need more time? Do you want to raise a concern?”

It’s about the communication there and the feedback. Enabling your employee to have a voice in that whole process is one of the key drivers to making this work for everyone in the organization. You can’t identify different personalities but you can listen to your employees, find out their needs, and be open to cater to different needs because not everyone will react to the change the same way.

Listening to what different people need and what we can do to help them and best support them through this change is the key point when we think about personalizing this whole process to employees without necessarily having to send out a questionnaire that asks them about their personality. Maybe it’s about their preferences.

It starts with leadership planning. Sumit mentioned something earlier about the change champion. You picked it up as well. Sumit, can you tell us what a change champion is and why they’re important in an organization?

I’ll borrow from Sophie’s point about routines and how routine seeking is important. Think about this. When you’re getting ready for work, if you have a habit of wearing your left shoe first and the right shoe after, and somebody says, “Flip the order,” it’s stressful. It’s not easy. It consumes a lot of mind space to do it. You could use the word neurotic. For high-functioning people like Steve Jobs, the black turtleneck was image management. There’s a correlation between resistance to change which is reflected in other behaviors as well. That’s how you can identify some of the personality types out there and their resistance to change. The change champions act as a catalyst or lubricate the entire change process.

If you were to look at something like a Lord of the Rings reference, somebody who’s like Gandalf, or somebody who’s whispering in your ear and saying, “It’s your decision. It’s free will, but if I were you, this is what I would recommend,” they’ve got experience and expertise. You look up to them. They’re not positioned to be the hero of the story. They’re there to make you the hero of the story. That’s where the impact of the chain champion is. They’re trying to enable you to succeed. That’s where organizations can do well with equipping and enabling them.

I do think there’s a huge misconception as well in organizations about the change champion always being the positive cheerleader that drives the change. Sometimes the change champion in the first stages would come up with their concerns, but at least they would communicate them. That’s crucial for every organization to have people that also question this whole process because if you never have people questioning a change, you would probably stumble across some of the pain points. You probably never bring up these worries that are moving people.

PSF 46 | Employee Wellbeing

Employee Wellbeing: If you never have people questioning a change, you would probably stumble across some of the pain points and never bring up these worries that are losing people.


Allowing people also to voice negative points or worries about a change will only be constructive for an organization because that will make you more sensitive toward the pain points that a change might have and the biggest challenges that are out there in that specific organization for the employees of that organization. A change champion doesn’t necessarily mean we are running there and saying, “We want this change.” We are driving it, but they can also be saying, “I’m happy to help, but here’s my concern about it. Listen to me.” We can talk about how to make some of these points work better for the organization.

I call it change agents. The early adopters to change oftentimes are also left surprised by all the unpredictable change that happens out there. Even though our organization might be going through a massive technology integration or some massive project when it comes to how we take care of our clients or customers, there are unpredictable changes that are outside of our control, “Did we not see that a couple of years ago?” Unpredictable changes influence the entire globe.

Being ready for unpredictable challenges is also extremely important. You never know what’s going to happen tomorrow. I do understand. As a change agent myself, the term I always use is about the little tugboat and the Titanic. You might have a whole team of change agents as little tugboats out there trying to push the Titanic and help the Titanic maneuver. Getting to Sam’s point, it’s all about the communication aspect of helping all levels of the ship understand what direction we need to steer the ship.

If half of that ship doesn’t know what’s happening, they’re only going to assume the worst and only assume absolute devastation, “The ship is going to sink. Something is bad going on because I am not hearing anything. I don’t know what’s going on with this organization.” That leads to fear and also what Sumit talked about, people leaving the organization. I would love to hear what you think about the communication aspects.

There’s one thing really quick before we jump into the communication piece. One important part of communication is setting expectations. It’s almost a primer to communications. It’s delivering the hard message at first. Howard, there are plenty of situations. When we’re looking at implementing solutions or software and so forth, and when we’re going through the process of implementing software, we expect it to be very systematic. We go to step 1, step 2, and step 3 but sometimes we come into an issue.

Sometimes we know this as an expert. There’s typically an issue here when we look at the employee information. Maybe the data doesn’t come over. There’s typically something that happens up there. We can set expectations. There are things that come up during the process that is a shock to the system. We didn’t expect this. How do we handle that, Howard, in those situations?

There are always going to be bumps and things that you can’t anticipate ahead of time. I’ve always found that the best way of dealing with those types of situations is by sharing it, open communication, and talking, “These are the problems that arose. This is the path we’re going to take to resolve them.” You get buy-in and support. People know that change is never a smooth process. It goes back to open communication, sharing, and getting people’s buy-in, not just at the beginning or the end but through the entire process.

That’s so important. It takes us to the core issue that everybody wants to jump into because communication is critical here. Sumit, you have a couple of real-life examples that have happened in the news about some bad communications that have happened out there. Sumit, can you tell us a little bit about some gaps that are going on with this recent change and some examples not to follow?

The Twitter takeover is a prime example where people have been told, “You’re being fired,” and then suddenly somebody says, “Hang on. That was a mistake. Why didn’t you come back and rejoin? We accidentally fired you. We didn’t realize that you’re critical to the new product that our owner wants us to build.” It’s sending out emails to people saying, “If you’re receiving this on your official mail ID, that means you still have a role here. In case you don’t, this mail will go to your personal ID. If you do not hear from us by this date and time, reach out to figure out what’s your future role like.”

The emails are dreadful. The email is not signed as a person or even a group. It’s signed as Twitter, “Best regards, Twitter.” That’s frankly ridiculous and one of the worst examples of communication that I’ve seen. On the same note, almost on the same day, the payments company Stripe announced layoffs as well. If you look at their communication, it’s run by two brothers. One of them is the CEO. The other one is the COO. The email is signed by both of them.

They start by saying, “We acknowledge that we failed to read the market accurately. We thought we could draw the business faster than it has been growing. We accept responsibility.” They started talking about the employees themselves and said, “We have failed you. Nothing compensates for what’s happening, but to help you deal with this change, these are a few of the things that we are doing.” They’ve got generous severance, health insurance, and other benefits, but they’re not making it sound like they’re doing people a favor or an active charity.

I noticed that also the same line. Meta has been getting a lot of press lately, especially after their earnings announcement, “We’re going to spend all this money.” Zuckerberg came out and said, “We’ve got some things wrong. There are going to be some layoffs.” He owned it on this video that I saw about how he misread the market and made a mistake. Some of that vulnerability and humanity are what’s demanded in the marketplace. What do you think, Sophie?

I agree with this. When talking about layoffs, it’s a common consensus that layoffs are never a nice process. No one wants to do this. No one wants to initiate it. No one wants to communicate it. It’s a painful process. Step one to meeting this whole situation is recognizing that it will be painful and recognizing the people that have to do this. It’s never easy to do this.

Another point that’s important in this whole process is to own the mistakes that may have happened in the process to communicate them. That’s a big topic of communication there. While doing that, remain objective. There’s not one organization unit or one area that is preferred over the other when it comes to layoffs. It’s recognizing this, communicating this, remaining objective, and saying, “This is where we need people. This is business relevant. Otherwise, we won’t be competitive anymore. Otherwise, we won’t be able to fulfill the business objectives that we have set.” Communicating this is also the key.

When laying off, you will let employees go. It’s not a nice thing neither for the people that you have to let go nor for the people that have to stay in the organization. That’s a point that you made earlier, Sumit. A lot of organizations forget about the people that are staying. One thing that is important when you lay off employees is that you treat everyone with respect while doing it. That’s not only for the people that leave but the people that stay will see how you treat the ones that you lay off.

When laying off employees, treat everyone with respect while doing it, not only for those who leave but also for those who stay. Click To Tweet

If they see that you’ve done this with a lot of respect, offered opportunities for them to support them, reach out to other employers, and see if you can find them other opportunities. That is something that people who stay with your organization will see. When we talk about commitment, employee well-being, and making someone feel valued by an organization, people that stay in an organization will see everything that happens with the layoffs.

If you communicate to them and show them that the layoff process has been a respectful and fair process, that is what helps the employees that stay to become more resilient to processes like this because it’s inhabitable that people have to be laid off. There’s a high turnover in organizations in general. It’s never a nice process but if you do this process with respect and communicate every single stage and the necessity for the layoffs, it’s easier for people to accept this layoff and this change that is happening in the organization.

Another example that I can think of is from almost years ago right after the subprime crisis. I was an intern at Microsoft. That’s when layoff was a bit of a dirty word. If somebody is being laid off, there were a lot of stigmas attached to it. It wasn’t as commonplace as it is now. The typical assumption was that if you’ve been laid off, you must have been a terrible employee and there must be something drastically wrong with your performance. The head of HR sat me down, explained the entire process, and said, “I want you to understand. Since you’re a business student and you’re interning, I would like to explain the entire rationale.” Even at that time, Microsoft had this concept of outplacements.

They treated everyone with dignity which informed people, “This has nothing to do with you. It’s got everything to do with us. We’ve got certain projects that we cannot continue because they’re not likely to be profitable in the short or the medium term. We’ve got to cut the entire project. Therefore, we no longer have these jobs but we will give you severance and different things like insurance and access to our learning library of courses. We will arrange for one-to-ones.”

Back then, mental well-being wasn’t such a massive focus area anywhere but they said, “We will arrange for counselors.” They also helped people with outplacement and gave them glowing references based on performance. There’s no bad blood. Once things turned around and Microsoft started doing well in the cloud, many of those people did join back. It strengthens your employer’s value proposition and increases the belief in leadership if you treat people nicely. That’s the business side of things. It is the right and the human thing to do. That goes without saying.

You bring up a good point there, Sumit. One thing that we should mention is that the concept of layoffs has changed over time. It was a significant tool in the past for scaling the business up and down and in certain situations but in our workplace, we have to realize that there are a lot of different levers to pull. Employers need to take greater responsibility for their people.

We have an agile workforce. You didn’t have that years ago. We have gig workers, contractors, and consultants. In some countries, they make up the majority of the workforce. Leveraging this agile workforce can be very important in limiting the number of layoffs that happen. Making sure that leaders are hiring the right people, taking more care in hiring right, and having accountability in their projects is critically important.

That’s something that’s shown its light in recent terms as well. We need to up our game as leaders. When there is a layoff that comes into place, we need to fall on our sword because it is our fault and take that to heart. Going back to the topic, Sophie, of employee well-being during this change, what are other things that we can do to help our employees navigate this change in a healthy way?

I want to quickly introduce the concept of change phases. While every organizational change might be very unique, most of the changes have a phase model underlying that’s shaping the whole organizational change. A lot of the time, when you introduce a change, the first reaction you will get is shock. The second reaction you will get is denial. Maybe you will have some people be enlightened about the idea of the whole change. It’s not a bad one. They might support it but then you will find others that are not yet at the level of acceptance, for example.

It’s not always possible in the same way but what’s fundamental is allowing your employees to participate in the change and shape the change. Getting feedback from them about how the process is going, whether they have all the information they need to be able to drive the change as well, allowing them opportunities to voice concerns and then shape the process by participating in it and being able to voice constructive criticism as well is key.

PSF 46 | Employee Wellbeing

Employee Wellbeing: What’s really fundamental is allowing your employees to participate in the change and shape the change.


Another point that we need to recognize as leaders, people that make decisions in organizations, or change managers is that you will find these phases in almost every change process. There are a lot of people that are at different change phases when you start a change, whereas one person might already be at the point where they accept the change. Another employee might still be completely in shock. A common denominator that we need to find or what would be good to aim for is to get as many people or employees as we can into one phase so that they at every change process are on the same level.

They can exchange what is moving them and the worries they have, build a community, and use its swarm intelligence to also overcome this change or challenges that you might encounter in this change. To bluntly put it into three words, it’s helpful when you communicate the change to get back to that point. You allow people or your employees to participate in the change.

You provide as much information as you can about the objectives of the change, the change phases, where in this whole phase or process, and which phase are you with the organization. Are you still trying things out? Are you trying to implement the change already? You’re trying to evaluate the change and whether it has worked, whereas some people might not even have realized that the change is in effect already. These key drivers, participation, communication, and information provision are key to every change process.

That’s great. Thanks, Sophie. As leaders, it’s important for us to help facilitate the process of going through those phases of grief. I recall when I’ve been in some layoff processes. I remember when we were sitting at my desk. The layoff was announced. Suddenly, people start disappearing. Once there was an active workplace of people bustling around, suddenly, it was dead quiet. At that time, I was in my little cubicle. Everybody was huddling. There was no communication and so forth.

I think of other processes or other changes in life that we have to deal with. If you lose a loved one or you’re coping with a person in your family that has an addiction or things like this, often you can get together, sit down in a group with people that are going through similar situations, and talk about it. I have a safe place to have a discussion. Do you think that this is advised in situations where there’s a great deal of change in the workplace, Sophie?

I wouldn’t necessarily call it a support group because I do think that people could come across as, “We are the problem here,” whereas they’re not. It’s valid to not understand the process in the beginning. It’s valid to have negative feelings about it. It’s fine but the most important thing is that you have a safe space to voice these concerns. To circle back to the personalities and the initial topic that I researched, what we need to recognize in organizations is there are certain groups of personalities that simply need more support because it’s not natural for them to voice and exchange their concerns with others.

For example, people high in extroversion are way more likely to go and rant about something or even vent about something. That is one well-working coping strategy for resilient employees or individuals. It’s getting the feelings out there and sharing them with people that go through the same process or maybe the same phase in the process even.

For employees high in neuroticism, it’s quite important to offer them a safe space to voice their feelings and concerns because they might not be very inclined to naturally go ahead and do that themselves. It’s giving them the opportunity to say, “Let’s talk about this. What is moving you? Why are you hesitant to support this process?” That is quite important to support personality types that might be dispositionally more inclined to resist changes.

Char, you’ve been a part of a large organization, a small business, and so forth. What are some of the strategies that you utilize to help your people adapt to change that we haven’t discussed so far?

We touched on this briefly earlier. Understanding the competencies that drive the talents and the psychology of our employees is critical. That is overall the talent management strategy. For example, how do certain employees deal with stress? How do certain employees deal with constant VUKA or volatility, uncertainty, complexities, and ambiguity? How do individual personalities deal with that?

As a proactive way to handle major unpredictable changes that your organization has to go through, the more you know your employees and have that very trusting and authentic relationship with your employees, then when major changes happen, you will do a better job of supporting them. I also think there are aspects of risk management. For example, Sam, you talked about, “We’re hearing everything is getting quiet.” Mistakes can happen.

For example, in one of my organizations, all of a sudden, IT started shutting off all the email accesses for all 80 employees who were about to be laid off. How ironic that all the emails shut off within the morning of the day of the layoff. It’s a huge mistake. One leader might send out an email talking about it. Risk management and then getting to know your employees are critical. I’ve had experience in all of those areas. Those are some of my tips.

What other things can you tell us, Sophie, that are important that we haven’t discussed yet that are top of mind?

To combine what we have discussed before, a lot of the time, it’s quite sad to see that because I’m in this field. I do live for what I do. I’m motivated about what I’m doing in my everyday work life. It doesn’t matter if we are talking about merger positions, major changes, organizational crises, the organization landscape that is changing, or new ways to work in the future. One thing that we should never forget or neglect is the human part and the human constant in all of this.

Everyone is different. We see that every day in our reactions, preferences, and what we like. Everyone has a different favorite color. It’s important to appreciate that we are all different and embrace these differences. Having diversity in every single process and allowing everyone to bring in their personality and their human sides is what is super important for organizations going forward.

That ties into when we think about new ways to work in the future, working from home, all the digitalization, digital transformation, and everything that is changing. We shall never forget that there are people that make up the organization. Without people or employees, no organization will be able to survive. It’s not about competitiveness but no organization would exist if there were no employees behind it.

Without people and employees, no organization will be able to actually survive. Click To Tweet

That is our number one priority in organizations as well to also put the people first and enable them to feel well in what they do and have an enjoyable time while they’re working because that in the end will drive the profits that will make you competitive as an organization. That will bring you into the market but if we neglect that human side and that we have employees and actual human beings sitting there and driving all of this, we would never get that far as an organization. If you want to reach something, never forget about the human side of things.

Well said, Sophie. The big summary of what we discussed or the learning points is that as a leader if you expect changes and if you’re facing change or if that’s becoming a risk, set expectations. You want to communicate and prep people ahead of time, “Inflation is looming. Business is slowing down. This may have an impact on our business. This may have an impact on us.” You’re giving people time to frame the situation and then also having the important planning for changes.

Don’t stumble out the door, lock all the doors, throw away the key cards, and stop the email. You have to plan about what’s going on so that you don’t have these huge gaps. Take a moment and plan effectively for the change. Make sure that you understand if there’s going to be an impact where people might be leaving, and you need some people to stay. Make sure that you know how you’re going to address that and keep those people that are critical to keeping the business going.

What Sophie mentioned is important. Humanity is more important now than in recent memory. We have all touched our mortality going through these past few years and seeing some of our loved ones depart from the pandemic and so forth or people that we know. Life is dear and short. We need to address that in our management style and how we communicate with people and treat people effectively.

The next thing that Sophie mentioned was personalization. People handle things differently. Understand their different coping styles and how we can move our entire workforce through that effectively as soon as possible as a way to get business back on track going forward. Finally, and most importantly, is to communicate effectively, often, and clearly. Did I miss anything there, Sophie?

Maybe communicate and let them participate as well because I do think participation is a big factor. That short summary covers it greatly.

Sophie, if our readers have questions, how can they reach you?

You’ve shortly mentioned at the beginning that I work for Gradar. On a different level, we try to bring transparency, fairness, and equity into organizations by offering a product that allows organizations to evaluate their jobs and define the worth or the relative value of that job for the organization. I work for Gradar. I’ve got my business email linked as well. You can find me on LinkedIn. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out. You can also find my calendar link online and book a small consultation with me if you like an informal discussion. You will find me through Gradar but you will also find me on LinkedIn on a more private side, not connected to the business I work for.

I want to thank you once again. This has been a wonderful conversation. It’s very timely and important for people out there. Thank you so much.

I appreciate it. Thanks.

Thank you very much.

Thank you, Sophie.

Take care, everyone. We will see you.


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About Sophie Janke

PSF 46 | Employee WellbeingImplementation Consultant for Gradar, specializing in Gender Pay Gap Reporting.

Has done extensive research into EU gender pay gap reporting and equal pay legislation, which complimented her substantial knowledge about the principles of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Accessibility (DEIA).

Before starting her role at Gradar, Sophie studied Media and Business Psychology at the University of Applied Sciences in Berlin and completed her studies with a master’s degree.

Is now a graduate of the MSC program Occupational and Organizational Psychology at the University of Sussex in Brighton.

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