Managing organisational change effectively is key not only in ensuring as seamless a transition as possible but in maintaining staff engagement, throughout the process. After all, with successful change comes a clear vision, but it is driven by the people within the organisation, your team.
In this blog, I share 7 ways that leaders and managers can ensure any change is well managed, with staff supported in any transition.
If there is one constant within life it is that change is inevitable. Whether as a result of business growth and restructure, merger, and acquisition, development of new leaders, or as a result of post-pandemic market changes, what is clear is that organisations must seek to adapt as seamlessly as possible.
However, the challenge that leaders and managers face in implementing change, is not only in getting systems, processes, and structure right but in supporting their people through their individual responses to the change.
Start with the vision.
In my coaching practice, this is often the point at which I come in; in supporting the leader or manager who understands that change is a necessary step forward, but who requires support in implementing that change, ensuring their actions are intentional and purposeful, rather than simply reactive.
The process of change, therefore, has to start with a vision. The vision of where your organisation wishes to be once the change has been effected and exploring the reality of where you are now. The disparity between the two allows you to create a road map, to fill any gaps identified along the way, whilst identifying the strengths you have to support the process.
Any change must be aligned with your organisation’s overarching objectives to ensure that any change will carry the business in the right financial, strategic, and ethical direction. This step is also valuable in ensuring that any change is worth the investment of time and energy in effecting it. If it’s not, then don’t do it.
Put People First.
Change may happen quickly or unexpectedly, and people are rarely emotionally ready, but it is vital that you, as a leader or manager, prepare your teams as much as possible. The biggest impediment to change initiatives comes when people who don’t understand the need for change are not communicated with and who are not given the opportunity to “buy in” to change.
Managing organisational change successfully involves clear communication strategies being created, that create and maintain momentum and that encompass a variety of approaches to deal with the diverse needs of the workforce.
Adapt Your Communication Strategy.
It is interesting that the modern workforce now potentially includes four different generations, all of whom will have unique perspectives and diverse needs. So, it is important that the effect of any change is reviewed in the context of each level of the organisation and from the perspective of the people it involves. This process will help you to identify where both learning and development and support are needed to mitigate the impacts of change.
Be as transparent as possible with your workforce, communicating reasons for change, the methods to be used to implement it, and the appropriate timelines for each stage. It is also important to ensure your teams are aware of the opportunity for feedback to be given, via surveys, focus groups, and informal feedback opportunities and acted on where appropriate, throughout the process. This allows you to identify and to be seen to act upon any barriers to change before they become an issue and can also be key in measuring the success of any change.
Offer Opportunities for Development.
Providing opportunities for learning and development can lead to a sense of empowerment for employees, who feel they are part of the process, and this may help to convince them of the benefits of any proposed change.
They are more likely to view organisational change as positive progress, rather than something that is simply mandated from the top. Training could include on-the-job coaching and mentoring, and online or face-to-face learning, but could also include mindfulness activities designed to support a positive mindset at a time when emotions may be running high.
As you communicate any proposed change, the need for it, and how it fits within your future organisational vision, it is important to recognise that this is not a one-time activity but should be maintained throughout the process. Your workforce will look to you as the beacon to lead them through the uncertainty and instability of change, and by demonstrating your transparency, and consistency in communication and actions, you also demonstrate that you value your workforce. A valued workforce is one that is empowered to deal with and engage in change, rather than seeing that change as something in which they are simply swept along.
Additionally, offering consistency through a focused, intentional communication strategy allows your teams to understand the “why,” “what” and “so what” of change. Each member of your team is likely to have one question in their mind as you deliver your plan for change; “What does this mean for me?” Clear communication can switch their perspective from one of fear to opt-in, where they look at how they can support change, rather than providing resistance to it. Remember, an empowered team is an engaged team, making managing organisational change so much more straightforward.
It is also key that you monitor levels of momentum, noting any dips. This is the time when strategies may have to be adapted or reset in order to continually build trust in your workforce. Again, transparency in actions, active listening through regular feedback opportunities, and proactivity of actions are important to demonstrate support and build trust. Your teams need to see that you are prioritising their welfare now more than ever before, and positive action here will pay dividends throughout the entire process.
Create a Support Structure.
Having the framework in place with which to support your team both emotionally and practically will help your workforce to navigate the change effectively. This could include training to improve technical skills in line with new or updated requirements, counseling for redundancy or restructuring, a mentoring service, or instigating an open-door policy to provide support with any challenges and questions that occur throughout the process.
It can be tempting, when so much is going on, to ignore any signs of resistance amongst your workforce. However, identifying and acting early is an opportunity to deal with any resistance before it has the chance to spread and take hold. Left longer and ignored, resistance can spread quickly and seriously threaten your progress. Instead, pay attention to signs of procrastination, inaction, spreading of rumours, and withholding information, and deal with them.
Managing Organisational Change – Conclusion.
Change of any description is difficult. but in growing your organisation, it is inevitable. All successful transitions have one thing in common, however, that they take their people with them through consistent communication, and empowerment and by enabling their workforce to have a part in driving change themselves.
When managing organisational change, put your people at the heart of everything you do. They will repay you one hundredfold.
Is your organisation going through a period of organisational change? I can support you and your teams in managing organisational change with effective, results-driven coaching and mentoring, supporting you to manage the process, create your vision for the future, and ensuring you take your people with you, whilst minimising the impact of change. Book a discovery call with me and let’s talk.