I went to the dentist last week for the first of two visits to get a crown placed on a cracked tooth. Honestly, I hate going to the dentist. Don't get me wrong. My dentist is extremely competent, and I trust his work.
But, as I sat in the chair looking at the upside-down-facing TV on the ceiling, I realized that my hands were clenched and my body was tight. I was seriously anxious. A few minutes later, I recognized that I hadn't experienced any actual pain, besides a slighly uncomfortable shot to numb my gums, and that my anxiety was being generated from my expectations about the pain that was yet to come.
While driving home, I concluded that if the dentist had communicated what to expect prior to the visit, it would have been a much better experience.
I think this is a great metaphor for change. Most of the pain that people experience during a change initiative has more to do with the stories that they tell themselves than about the change itself.
So, what can you do to make the change process easier for the people you lead? It's actually pretty simple. Communicate.
Communicate what you know. Communicate what you don't know. Ask people what they need.