Managing organisational CHANGE
Change is hard for one person, doing it yourself can be really difficult, let alone managing the change of a whole organisation.
Everyone is different, motivated by different things, with their own personal insecurities and fears.
How is it even possible to manage what is essentially a very personal thing, but on a one-size-fits-all basis, as you would with a large organisation?
We have one thing in common, in that we all want to improve our current situation, to feel we are improving in some way. This can come about through…
- Feeling more valued
- Feeling we are contributing more through our job function
- Learning new skills
- Our ability to make use of our talents
- Being trusted more to use our judgments and skills
- Not feeling like we are being exploited and used without any of the benefits
- believing we can move forwards or upwards within the organisation
- feeling we are not getting caught up in unnecessary politics within the workplace, and being supported when flare ups occur
It’s important we don’t over pander to employees, instead treat them as adults, with responsibilities, but be supportive, when required.
There are lots of frameworks that lay out the step by step stages people may pass through, throughout the change process; feeling anxiety, happiness, denial, then fear, guilty, depression, hostility, and finally acceptance (as in the illustration above). These kinds of frameworks can give us some appreciation of the possible stages our employees may go through, but they aren’t going to help us actually manage the change process, because they fail to account for the complexity of individual employees and the fact that employees have different fears, and motivations, and will be going through different stages and emotions at different times and for different reasons.
Let’s now look at the possible objections employees might have to any organisational change.
Why employees resist CHANGE
They may fear losing something from the current status quo.
They may just be indifference to the change process and/or destination the organisation is hoping to move towards.
They just can’t see or don’t agree with big picture vision of what the organisation is wanting to do.
They don’t agree with the path forward and the possible discomfort they might have to endure while making the transition, or they might just think there is a better solution available to the organisation.
They might feel they are already overworked and don’t want more workload on top of what’s currently on their table.
They may feel ignored or excluded in the decision making process.
They may fear a loss of face, responsibility, job security as a result of the change process.
They may be suspicious of some hidden agenda – fear a devaluation at some point – lack of trust in those who yield power.
They may feel change will be slow or it might prevent some self interested increase or advancement further down the line.
They may fear they will lack autonomy going forward or fear extra responsibility in future, which they are uncomfortable about.
Now not every employee will have such objections, others will have some or all of the above. A one-fits-all solution is not going to be an effective approach to implementing change because of such complexities.
The way ahead for long lasting CHANGE
So the question becomes, how do we effectively manage change, taking all these concerns and complexities into consideration?
Well you would have to first ensure that the organisation goals and change process are aligned to the inspirations of employees whilst actively managing their fears on a one to one basis.
This could be achieved by ensuring they feel more valued, have more autonomy, learn more skills, are trusted to make decisions, are able to contribute more etc.
The change process will only be successful, if employees are involved, are part of the process, and benefit from the changes.
Take employees through the getresults.org.uk framework, and improve their self awareness, improve their ability and willingness to take responsibility, ensure they are open minded and able to see possibilities rather than risks, help them be more committed to the process of change, by dealing with their own fears, discomfort and conflicts with the support of the organisation, at every stage. Sign up for our newsletter for more info.
Change requires employees to acquire the necessary knowledge to make progress, be more motivated to seek improvements and learn better techniques and methods, and embrace the opportunities to improve productivity.
The organisations leadership should be like a gardener, preparing the ground, the space, to make it easy for nature to do it’s thing, rather than being like the carpenter, who tries to control every aspect of the work, shaping it to his/her wishes.
If your method for change doesn’t align with the natural instincts of employees, and doesn’t take advance of human nature, you’re facing a path of conflict and struggle.
In his book “Brave new work”, Aaron Dignan uses the following method for organisational change.
This is an inclusive, persistent, continual process of evolution rather than revolution, where employees are empowered to remain involved in the evolving process permanently. It breaks away from a linear process, one step, then the next, and instead involves looping through a cycle of noticing Tension, Practice and Experimentation. I’d recommend checking out his book for more about this approach.
For more info about getting results and the methodology we use, sign up for our newsletter, or look through the information on this website.