Implementing Organizational Change
Do you know that 70% of programs dealing with organizational change in an organization fail? And the actual causes are a lack of management support and employee resistance.
With technological advancements and a new generation increasingly shaping the work environment, such a high failure rate should be a genuine concern to any business trying to implement change.
To ensure that your change process doesn’t become another ghost project, organizations need to help employees deal with change. But that’s not all; you also need to be aware of the strategies to manage organizational change better.
Most employees will resist change because of fear they lack the training or knowledge to make the change process work.
For example, let’s say you’re launching a new system software or process.
Companies must create a budget and allocate resources and time for training team members. The primary advantage of training is for the team to stick to the new ways of doing work and ensure it is effective.
2. Staying Positive
One thing we know about change is that it can be stressful and even create lots of confusion. As a manager, you don’t want to show that you are emotionally overwhelmed by change.
Otherwise, you will develop a climate of uncertainty, doubts, and stress, which your employees will exhibit.
It is at this time that you remain enthusiastic and upbeat and keep things under control. Create a conducive or calm environment for the change process to push through.
Consider also motivating your employees to help them maintain a positive attitude during the change process. You can motivate employees by:
- Giving them a stipend for hard work
- Sending brief congratulatory cards and messages
- Sharing with your team your progress report
3. Collect Feedback and Respond
Before you even start implementing the change process, some employees would like to voice their concerns regarding the process. So, it is essential to acknowledge these voices. This will help smooth the transition, especially if employees have heard inaccurate rumors about what you are trying to achieve.
You can gather feedback at the start, middle, or close of your change process, either through a casual conversation during a meeting or break or send out a survey to capture the views of those who want to remain anonymous.
In the end, leaders must take action or consider this feedback during the change implementation process. Collecting feedback will ensure everyone is held accountable as their suggestions and feedback are used to implement the change process.
4. Define Roles
The reason you might implement change is to meet your organizational goals. In this regard, begin by making employees and teams accountable for their actions and how the change process will be carried out.
Start by defining roles and tasks to limit friction and complaints that may arise later in the change process. Don’t just define roles and leave things at that. Set specific milestones, means of communication, and when to perform regular check-in or reviews.
5. Encourage Employee Participation
Suppose employees are not involved in the change process. In that case, there is a big possibility that they will resist it by spreading negative information or sabotaging initiatives or structures set to help the change process work. Thus, your change process will be stillborn.
Your responsibility as a decision-maker is to involve the employee in the change process soon. And if possible, while it is still being discussed at the management level. You can achieve this by issuing formal communication or inviting employee representatives to your meetings.
Managers should not stay with the information or let employees hear it through the grapevine, as this would make them lean more towards gossip and develop cold feet during its implementation.
The next step after encouraging employee participation is to ask for a commitment from each employee. You can promote commitment by defining expectations.
Another way is to let them know what the organization stands to lose if they cannot commit. While doing so, let every employee know you are open to hearing about their grievances to prevent a negative employee from spreading rumors about how the change will not work. Managers should also lead by example and be the first to commit.
6. Be Flexible but Firm
One thing you must note is that there will be some element of opposition to the change. As a manager, this is the time to remain firm and see that the change process is implemented to completion.
If you encounter failure or obstacles, be there to tackle them and not leave everything to be handled by employees or supervisors. It may show a lack of credibility in yourself and dishonor. Employees will not take your word seriously the next time you need their cooperation in a project.
Your opposers will also take this opportunity to badmouth you and the organization. By all means, hold your guard, and don’t forget to be flexible in accepting the alternative solution or process that comes with the change.
7. Help Employees Understand the Change
While some changes are easily understood, and everyone knows it must happen, like wearing masks during a pandemic period, others would require an explanation. Without this, they will be misinterpreted and cause undesirable results.
Your team needs to know why the organization needs the change. For example, when rolling out new software for data collection and time-tracking, ensure they understand its benefits. Are you aiming to improve efficacy or customer experience?
Without seeing the benefits, your team would be skeptical or even revolt as they feel the organization is out to give them the ax.
8. Communicate Frequently
Rumors, misinformation, and negative feedback are bound to arise during the change process and even stall what you are trying to achieve. To clear up such things, expound your communication process by making your office accessible to answer any pending questions or controversies.
Note that people want more information and clarification during this time. Remain accessible to opinions and reactions from employees. One way is to be a good listener. Other methods include updating employees regularly on any additional information that may arise and removing any barrier to your communication channels.
You may be unavailable or are in a remote setup, write a blog post on your company website detailing what the change is all about and prevent or kill any rumors spreading online.
Strategies for Managing Change
Carrying out change is a long and involving process. Be aware that merely helping your team deal with change is just the tip of the iceberg. You must also possess some skills and strategies to help you through the change process.
These strategies guarantee you don’t lose focus during the change process or when you meet obstacles. Here are seven strategies for effective change management in your organization.
1. Have a plan
Creating a plan has several benefits. It helps you outline your reasons for change, select those involved in the change process (stakeholders and team members), the scope, and a roadmap of what you require to complete the change process.
From your plan, you will find communicating the change process is easier. You can also draw out ways to motivate people to accept the change and easily monitor progress to achieve milestones and goals for the change.
In your scope, include a checklist or steps for navigating through the change process, such as:
Preparation: Involves getting employees and the entire organization ready for change by helping them understand the change, implementing the transition process, and sharing the vision and mission statement or plan for achieving the change.
Implementation: You want to ensure the change is done to meet its mission, vision, or goals. Find the change champions, resources set aside, and duration for change.
Follow Up: have measures to help the change process stick in the employees’ minds and be embedded in the organization’s vision. It also includes steps, activities, and processes to ensure everyone does their part so that the change is successful.
While writing your plan, ensure you understand the process and forces of change, as your chances of success depend on it.
2. Pick out what needs to be changed
Naturally, you can’t wake up one day and decide that you need a change. You must have identified a need to address. It may be a legacy system that needs to be updated or work-from-home plans that need to be put in place.
When you select what needs to be changed, you can easily create a vision and move your business to a better future. Thus, ensure you pick out the most critical factor that requires change. This way, you can easily create clear and tangible goals and visions that would involve several stakeholders and even address other interconnected root causes of the problem.
3. Expect roadblocks and be ready for the potential outcomes
Change usually brings different potential outcomes. Thus, the process isn’t smooth at many times, and there will always be resistance or roadblocks.
The best way to prepare for roadblocks is to determine their impact and effects on those affected. This will help you develop strategies such as empowering employees or providing incentives, or restructuring their roles to change their behavior and do away with any obstacles that would prevent change from taking place. It will also help you know how employees will receive change and what complex problems to address.
4. Create a network of change champions
Most times, you would want to kick off the change process with the entire team, where you send the message or engage in top-down communication. However, this can be counter-effective and lead to increased opposition if the objectives aren’t communicated or initiatives are not well understood.
For your change transformation to be effective, consider starting your process with a small group of employees. Identify those who are enthusiastic about the change, willing to convince colleagues of the change, and even trust your theory or are ready to test your assumptions.
These change champions would easily connect with the people and increase involvement in the change by making people feel they own the change process. Through watercooler talk, which is more appropriate than top-down communication, they help employees understand change and why it is needed.
5. Implement a support structure
Every change initiative creates some emotional and mental torture to employees, especially if it threatens to make people redundant or results in restructures.
Those who feel they lack the technical skills to achieve the desired results need counseling to navigate the situation. As a leader, find what is most required and what support structure would be effective. Then you could set up mentorship programs to help those affected adjust to the change process. Alternatively, ensure your organization’s doors are open to any employee with issues to address.
6. Measure the result of your change process
You shouldn’t just measure the results at the end but all through the change process. Continuous assessments make the process more fulfilling.
Hence, set up milestones from which you measure the impact of change, and evaluate it to determine its effectiveness. Remember to document the lessons to reinforce opportunities and reaffirm the employees’ commitments to ensuring the change process succeeds.
Some things to document are what you could have done differently, what made the process successful, the resources you used, and your obstacles. These help you better manage future organizational change.
Today, organizations have resorted to using digital tools to manage the change process, as traditional methods are slow-moving. Still, the change process is bound to hit obstacles along the way if employees feel stressed and develop a negative attitude towards it.
As a result, what you are trying to accomplish may stall. It is your job as a manager or decision-maker to help every team member navigate the challenges and differences brought about by the change process.
Through training workshops, defining roles, or including employees in the change process, you would see the benefits of improving the organization’s productivity and overall growth.
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