Organizational change seems to be the only constant thing successful businesses expect.
As technology advances and economies develop, companies have no choice but to embrace change or perish. A study by Gartner showed that the average successful business had embraced five major organizational changes from 2017 to 2020.
Organizations are constantly bombarded with changing external and internal business environments and local and global economies. These pressures necessitate changes in workplace systems, processes, and strategies.
But as a manager, how do you effectively manage change and bring success to your business? This article provides practical tips to help you manage organizational change.
Organizational Change: What Is It?
Organizational change is how an organization alters its operations or strategies. It could alter the company’s culture, structure, technologies, and major goals. Some organizational changes are continuous, while others happen once after some time. Organizational change can be categorized into two types: transformative and adaptive change.
- Transformative changes happen when the organization implements major shifts in the business’s direction.
- On the other hand, adaptive changes are minor or incremental changes to fine-tune certain business processes.
Organizational changes can improve business operations and encourage productivity. It also engenders adaptability, helping a business to survive harsh economic environments.
Remember that organizational change can be the result of internal and external pressures. Either way, the change can be a good thing.
Tips For Managing Organizational Change Effectively
Some managers used to the status quo are often terrified by the prospect of change. It is understandable because we love routine, and anything threatening this comfort zone is rarely welcomed.
However, since change is a constant organizational feature, it is essential that you adapt to it. These tips can help you:
1- Clearly Identify The Change And Align Your Business Goals With It
It is one thing to recognize the inevitable change, but it is another thing to align the change with your organizational goals and objective. This critical review will ensure that the change carries your organization forward financially, strategically, and ethically.
As a manager, you may need to change management strategies and assist your team in determining the value of the incoming change.
You need to know what the organization needs to change and why the change is important.
2- People Come First
If, as a manager, you understand the change and its benefits to the organization, have you ensured that your employees know about it?
Some managers get carried away by the excitement of change and its potential benefits that they begin the process in haste without involving the people.
It is people who fuel and sustain the momentum for change. However, the initiative will fail if people are sidelined or don’t fully understand or believe in the change.
Involving employees in the change process is proactive change management and is one of the techniques for managing change in the workplace.
Therefore, ensure your employees are roped in the change process; they understand what is coming and believe it is a force for good.
This brings me to a related tip number 3…
3- Freely And Regularly Communicate With Your Employees
Communication will help you cement a good relationship with your employees. Your vision for change can only be as strong as the communication channels that support it.
Change management communication helps employees know why the change is vital and mobilizes them to support it. Failure to communicate with employees can contribute to business failure.
And communication is not something you do once in a board room. It requires clarity, consistency, and commitment.
You can do a survey or collect feedback to determine your staff’s feelings towards the change. When employees realize their opinions and feelings are valued by leadership, they will likely participate and make the change happen seamlessly.
4- Have a Workable Plan
Nothing happens without a plan. You cannot leave change to the forces of nature or chance. That is a sure way to fail.
You need a plan to guide you through any change management process. It may not be voluminous, but you should have a few pages describing what you want to accomplish and how you want to go about it.
Your plan should also define the scope, establish a team, outline key stakeholders, and provide a roadmap to complete the project. Once your people understand and support the need for change, write it down.
5- Build a Support Structure
A business structure will help your employees practically and emotionally adjust to the change. These structures will help the build technical skills and develop qualities needed to increase productivity.
Unfortunately, some organizational changes lead to restructuring and employee layoff; however, the structure can help with the transition by providing counseling to help people go through the hard face smoothly.
You could implement a coaching and mentorship program to educate employees on how to handle their new assignments after the change. Additionally, you can adopt an open-door policy where employees can ask questions for clarification without fear.
Change is not easy for most people, but if you have established business structures, you will know who needs support and how it can be provided.
6- Gently Handle Resistance
As a manager, don’t expect everybody to follow you, even if you are excited and enthusiastic about the change. Resistance is part of the change; you will do better if you embrace it.
You need to allow dissenting voices to have their say in the house and figure out how to address these concerns. Otherwise, resistance will find its way outside the room, and you will be staring at a bigger fire to put out.
Let people know that they are allowed to struggle with change. However, they should also know that this struggle should be timebound.
Why not create a forum in the organization where dissenters challenge the change, air their opinions, and reason with others to see where adjustments can be made? When all feel involved, they will likely work hard to ensure you succeed.
Be curious about the resistance you will likely meet and how you will honor them. This expectation will help create stronger strategic plans to execute the change.
You could pilot the change by testing it in certain parts of the organization, and when it succeeds, the idea is likely to experience less resistance. Yes, it takes time, but it is an effective way of helping employees deal with change in the workplace.
7- Track Your Success Metrics
You should have a structure to measure the change management process. If people know the targeted change impact and how their contribution helped in realizing the growth, they are motivated to achieve other goals.
Measuring your change management metrics helps you know the effectiveness of your strategy and allows you to document lessons you have learned.
Check out my 8 long-term growth metrics every start-up should track.
Therefore, reporting on organizational change progress against defined targets. But it is essential to make clear the targets when initiating the change so that key stakeholders are aware.
Benefits Of Change Management For Your Organization
Why go to great lengths to manage change in your business? Managing change will benefit employees and the executive and improve productivity.
1- It Helps With Controlling Change Management Costs
Change in the workplace often helps meet customer expectations and market demands. However, if the outcome is unfavorable, it leads to extra expenses and reworks.
An organization can reduce its budget if it can effectively manage change. Communicating your change management plan to employees can also help you reduce resources and time wastage from incorporative staff.
2- It Helps Reduce Employee Anxiety And Stress
Your employees will likely resist change if they fear losing their jobs. However, an organization can understand how changes will affect employees’ productivity, morale, engagement, and loyalty with an effective change management strategy.
The strategy should consider employees’ stress and anxiety, thus minimizing the level of resistance you receive. When your employees know the reason for the change, the duration, and the desired outcome, they will cooperate with you.
3- It Ensures That Organizational Goals Align With The Operations
One of the reasons for developing a change management strategy is to ensure that change aligns with the organization’s core values. Unless it is an overhaul, strategic organizational change should align with the company’s vision, mission, and values.
Otherwise, the organization may lose employees, partners, and customers. For instance:
- If your company’s core values entail championing sustainability, an organizational change should not contract suppliers known for dumping toxic waste material in water bodies or land.
- If a change goes against company ethics, management should avoid initiating the change.
Change is an inevitable part of any successful and growing organization. However, if the change is not properly managed, it can lead to chaos and business failure.
Since organizational change affects people, it should address employees’ concerns. And having a change management strategy is the vehicle by which a successful organization ride.
Leaders who understand and easily embrace change will likely succeed more than those who don’t. What are some change management strategies that have worked for your organization?
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