Organisational change deals with alterations or changes that alter a major component of the organisation, such as infrastructure, internal processes, or culture. By leveraging change to introduce a successful solution, typically three major phrases are touched on: preparation, implementation, and follow-through.
When implemented in the right way, change management can bring significant benefits. For instance, change management reduces the likelihood of a new system being rejected by an organisation. Keep in mind, however, that it does not by itself lower costs or boost sales. Instead, this process increases the teamwork needed for the organisation to accept the change and operate at the highest possible level.
Organisational change management is required whenever your organisation implements a program that impacts how your operation runs on a day-to-day basis. For instance, when something changes, such as:
The content that workers produce
Many roles call upon workers to carry out regular tasks across the week. A marketing agency, for example, needs to meet daily, weekly, monthly and annual targets by completing certain activities. The tools used to do this become familiar and second nature over time. Even minor tweaks can interfere with work processes and cause concern for team members.
The roles of each employee
People find their identity within an organisation based on what they excel at. When asked to work within a different role, they may feel uncertain and not confident. For instance, people with strong technical skills may find it difficult to manage a team of specialists under them. When someone loses direction and they no longer feel recognised for the skills that made them successful, they can easily become disgruntled.
The actual organisation
Executives and senior members of staff often debate significant changes for months prior to making a decision, meaning everyone involved in the conversation will understand the impact of change on a deeper level. Regardless of whether they agree with the direction being taken, they have the time to accept and support the new change or to leave in their own time. The people not included in these conversations, alternatively, do not have the luxury of this insight. As a result, these individuals have less time to prepare for planned change and may in turn decide to leave mid-way through the change process, making everything more difficult to manage.
In order for change management to be successful, a number of things need to be accounted for:
The right executive sponsor
The organisational change management sponsor needs to develop the case for change and obtain the relevant resources. This is dependent on the sponsor having the support of the CEO to clearly define that this is important.
Key to the process is the sponsor understanding the reason for change. This is because they need to have a thorough discussion about the challenges that brought about the need for different ways of functioning. This person should have the confidence to confront sceptics by using details to support the chosen approach. They should also provide reasons as to why alternatives were rejected.
The sponsor needs to appreciate the effect that change will have on team members. This involves communicating honestly and treating everyone fairly and with respect. It is important to take the time to listen and empathise with people who disagree with the change, rather than just relaying the facts. If someone is to be reassigned or terminated, sponsors need to know what this process will look like and how people will be treated. They should provide an explanation regarding why the change was required, and facilitate a smooth transition for anyone whose job has been transformed.
Cultural willingness to change
It’s natural for an organisation to push back against change to some level, but moving with the times and adopting flexibility is key to positive growth. With this in mind, smart change management teams utilise the emotional energy of an organisation. They share company stories, language and behaviour to highlight the aspects of current culture that match with the scheduled change. These teams reward actions that they want to encourage by recognising individuals that demonstrate these behaviours publicly. It’s vital to use every opportunity to reinforce the way the change helps the enterprise.
Individual willingness to change
Individual team members need to be prepared to study new information and take on new behaviours and approaches. This can present challenges, as most people find comfort in the status quo. However, the majority will accept changes that improve the work culture and their job.
Praise and consequences
It’s important that significant changes are reinforced through the use of rewards and consequences. For instance, personalised performance plans with specific, easily-tracked results need to be applied to strengthen the desired future state of the organisation. Those that reach their objectives need to be rewarded and those that fail to do so should face respective consequences.
Typically, on one end of the spectrum, you’ll find organisational change that speaks to modesty, while on the other end, managers will implement plans for vast change, The two most common types of organisational change are: adaptive changes and transformational changes.
Small, incremental changes that must evolve over time are typically referred to as adaptive changes. These minor modifications are fine-tuned to refine processes, such as upgrading and operating systems or implementing weekly meetings to adapt to the new work from home arrangements.
These changes have a larger scope and often involve a shift in strategy, team structure, or business processes. Transformational changes could involve culture change, which can effectively transform the way employees interact. Or it may be deploying a completely new platform, such as CRM software.
Organisational change is necessary for businesses to grow and succeed, and can’t really be avoided. By driving successful adoption and change, employees can understand and commit to the shift, working effectively to implement the change needed to transform the organisation. Without organisational change, companies face lower employee morale, slower skill development, and flawed processes. Ultimately, a botched change management plan can lead to the failure of an organisation.
Leadership development is a crucial step in organisational change. As a leader, it’s important to outline the goals and look at the bigger picture to articulate high-level change. Managers should be concentrated on implementing change by determining and determining the steps that need to be taken in order to achieve structural transformation.
As we know, there are different styles of leadership. But some attributes can be better than others for implementing organisational change. It’s important for senior managers to take this into consideration when upskilling their leaders. The most successful champions for culture and organisational change are leaders who authentically display the following characteristics:
When undergoing the change management process, there are four principles or stages an organisation must enact for it to be successful and to see an improvement in organisational performance. These being:
The key to successful change management is to first understand the benefits that the change will bring. This is step 1 because before you can start promoting them and convincing others, you have to be a solid advocate yourself. To be on your way to fully understanding the need for change, begin by thinking about:
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to change management. Some organisations prefer a very strict management plan, while others flourish when they have a little more flexibility. It all depends on the culture of your organisation, the people and what you’re trying to achieve. Generally speaking, however, most change management plans must consider:
Once you’ve finished your planning stage and considered every detail, you can start thinking about how you are going to make the change a reality. There are many different methodologies you can use to get the change in motion, but the exact one you use will depend on your individual organisation.
Here are a few implementation methods you can consider:Kotter’s 8 - Step Change Model:
Regardless of which implementation model you choose, it is important to communicate transparently with your workforce. Keeping your cards close to your chest will only foster resistance and feelings of distrust.
Ensure that you clearly relay the reasons for the change, what benefits it will bring to employees individually and the organisation as a whole and what is involved in the change process.
Update the workforce throughout each stage of the transition and celebrate the wins. This will not only ensure that your change management plan goes off without a hitch, but it will also improve your organisational performance.
Change can feel uncomfortable, especially when employees have gotten used to working in a certain way. It’s for this reason that certain obstacles may arise during your change management process. However, these obstacles can be overcome with preparation, patience and nurturing. So what are the most common barriers to change?
The number one obstacle organisations need to overcome when undergoing significant organisational change is resistance and fear from employees. In our experience as organisational change consultants, employee resistance occurs when they don’t completely understand why the change needs to occur and what benefits it will bring to them as individuals.
To overcome this, we need to go back to the principle of communicating the change. If you clearly communicate the change management plan, why it needs to happen and then approach concerns with empathy and understanding, your employees will feel much more at ease.
As you can probably see by now, there is a common theme amongst the barriers to change and that’s communication. If employees receive unclear instructions on how to implement the change, they may not be able to execute it in the way that was originally planned. If the instructions are convoluted, they may attempt to implement the change and then give up once confusion sets in. This can cause even further resistance.
To break down this obstacle, you must ensure that you devise a comprehensive series of comms that concisely explain the changes to come, and what actions need to be taken. The comms can be in the form of emails, organisational-wide announcements, 1-1 conversations or ideally, a combination of all 3.
Employees that have been with the organisation for quite some time may find organisational change particularly difficult due to their long-term operational habits. This type of barrier doesn’t stem from active resistance to change but rather an automated process that is difficult to stray from.
You can help to support these employees by ensuring that they are getting the support they need. This can come in the form of support and coaching from their leaders or official training. Leaders must be mindful of the challenges these employees are facing and be prepared to answer any questions that may arise with compassion and kindness.
Organisational change is a common hurdle that leaders have to overcome, however, it can sometimes be challenging to develop a plan of action for how to achieve it. Our team of accomplished change management consultants can help your organisation plan, design and implement your organisational change plan to maximise your organisational performance. Get in touch with the team at Performance by Design today.
Organisational change management is a framework used for managing the impact of new processes within an organisation. This can include structural changes, cultural changes and changes to day-to-day operation. A systematic approach to OCM is advantageous when change requires people throughout an organisation to learn new behaviours and skills.
The 7 R’s of change are:
For successful change implementation in organisations, these are four vital interrelated components: