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POPin Blog

Principles for Managing Organizational Change

Winston Churchill said, “To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” To remain competitive and up-to-date, companies must change; sometimes more than once. Restructuring your organizational chart? Revamping your brand identity? Conducting a system-wide tech overhaul? Regardless of the purpose, every employee feels the effects of your company’s change. Often, members from the C-suite get caught up in the end game; the purpose of the change; the final solution. And that’s when things go awry. Don’t lose sight of your employee’s day-to-day reality. Successful companies approach change with an employee-centric model. Use the following 5 principles for managing organizational change to ensure a smooth transition for everyone. Expect and Prepare for Resistance It’s inevitable. It’s human nature. It’s okay. The first response to your announcement will be emotional rather than logical. Accepting this as a part of the process may dictate how strong the resistance will be and how long it will last. The factors that drive resistance vary based on the industry. Some common reasons employees resist change include: Insecurity about the future Address this right from the start to moderate fear. The potential for changing roles Be prepared with a brief description of how roles may change. Explain the incremental steps for adequate training (if needed) on new responsibilities. Overall concerns with change Understand ahead of time the effects on each department. Having answers prepared in advance will determine how smooth your launch goes. Anticipate resistance. Include addressing it as part of your initial process. Train managers on how to best manage it. And don’t forget: some resistance is good. And don’t forget: some resistance is good. It may help identify flaws in the change plan. Choose the Right Leadership to Navigate the Change Hopefully, you already have buy-in from the top execs. (If not, it’s time to head up to the C-suite before going any further.) One person managing organizational change “from atop a lofty throne” spells disaster. Not only when it comes to buy-in, but also during implementation. Develop a “change team.” This should consist of employees from different departments and different management levels. Choose leaders committed to the change and who have a good understanding of how it will affect their group. It’s also important to choose people willing to model new behaviors. Don’t make the mistake of treating this role as a volunteer opportunity. Reward participation with monetary incentives or bonuses, not pats on the back. Don’t Ignore the Current Culture This is one of the most important elements in managing organizational change. Ignoring the current company culture is one of the biggest management mistakes. Successful change occurs by drawing insight from established processes. What are your employee’s current ways of working, thinking and behaving? Look for areas where these overlap with the new changes. If your process involves encouraging individual change, more employees will accept the change. Managing Organizational Change Involves Eliminating Fear Will I get along with my new manager? Will I understand the new processes? Will I still have the same position? The idea of big change is unsettling, but the fear of the unknown may create inflexible employees. Change in one area of the company doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Address the issues expected in each department ahead of time. This goes a long way toward easing fear of the unknown. Managing organizational change requires constant communication and engagement. Outlining the plan during a roll-out meeting, then expecting everything to fall into place, doesn’t work. Implement a multi-phased plan to keep the message fresh. A watered down version is in jeopardy of misinterpretation. Offer ways for employees to ask questions, voice concerns and give input throughout the entire process. Commitment Equals Compliance The more you can generate enthusiasm the easier it will be for employees to commit to the change. Don’t expect commitment by only providing facts and stats. Foster personal connection by celebrating the history and traditions of the company. Be transparent about upper-level goals and vision. Then get specific about the positive effects it will have on each employee as an individual. Many companies have found success by offering the promise of reward. Whether monetary or social, offer rewards throughout the various stages of the process. Human beings are more likely to take ownership of their new roles and responsibilities when there is a reward involved. Make the Change Realizing that change impacts every employee is pivotal to effectively managing organizational change. The companies that succeed do not adapt a one-way-fits-all mindset. They embrace the differences within their organization. Input from the people affected the most is invaluable. It allows you to gauge successes step-by-step and keep a finger on the pulse of buy-in. At POPin we help organizations turn insights into actions. Click here to learn what POPin can do for your company.