Change is a fact of life in the workplace, but it doesn’t have to be painful. Change can be viewed positively, even by those who initially don’t want it, when it is managed well.
WHAT IS ORGANISATIONAL CHANGE?
Organisational change refers to the actions and process of altering a major component of an organisation such as culture, technologies, infrastructure or internal processes.
Organisational change can be planned or unplanned. Unplanned organisational change is typically due to major events such as natural disaster or major financial changes. Planned organisational change is generally implemented to improve the organisation in some way. Often, not all stakeholders are affected equally.
HOW TO MANAGE ORGANISATIONAL CHANGE
It is important that those driving or managing the change stay aware that not everyone handles change well. Even the smallest change might be difficult for some. Agents of change should also be mindful that in any form of change, there will be winners and losers. It’s important to be mindful of the impact of the proposed change on all stakeholders and do what you can to make the transition as easy as possible for everyone.
Those likely to be affected by the change should ideally be consulted;
- well ahead of time about the potential impact on their ability to carry out their roles;
- on their physical and mental well being; and
- whether there are likely to be any other impacts that have not been foreseen.
Their suggestions on how these impacts could be mitigated or alleviated should be sought and considered. In many cases, decision-makers are not always aware of the real-world impacts on workers when changes are made. Workers on the coalface are an important knowledge bank when deciding on the viability of major change.
A consultation process with stakeholders on the ground can highlight potential future problems that may not have been considered. Consultation may also highlight problems that would make the proposed change unviable, or which may require additional problem solving.
The very act of consulting workers prior to the change taking place and showing you care about how they feel about the change, will do a great deal when it comes to fostering trust and garnering the support you’ll need from employees during implementation.
Seek ‘Buy In’
Employee stakeholders are much more likely to accept change if they can see the benefits of the change to them personally. Finding the ‘silver lining’ for employees can be very helpful in bringing them along with you. You want your people to be excited about the change rather than fearing it or feeling negative about it.
Of course, some changes, particularly those that involve redundancies, will not have a silver lining for those affected. However, where possible, it’s important to find the sweeteners that will hopefully provide those who are averse to the change with some comfort and peace of mind moving forward. And, if there are no silver linings, maybe the change should not be happening. A good business depends on happy people.
Failing to achieve buy-in from stakeholders can also lead to formal complaints, as those negatively affected by the change perceive they are being victimised.
When Change isn’t Managed Effectively
An individual’s capacity to adapt to these changes can decrease and ongoing issues can arise if the proposed changes are not effectively communicated
Human beings are not suited to operating within an information vacuum. Lack of information can lead to rumour, conjecture and unnecessary stress. When people aren’t receiving the information they need or want, they will try to fill in the blanks themselves through speculation. This can quickly get out of hand.
Failure to manage change effectively is one of the most common catalysts for workplace complaints, workplace stress claims and loss of valuable human capital.
Contact Us to find out how we can help you manage organisational change