We all know the saying change is good. But successful organizational change can be seen as less than such by many. As an organization, how you handle and communicate change will have a tremendous impact on how well the change is received. A poor implementation process can have a negative impact on the effectiveness of the change as well as on employee morale.
If change isn’t properly understood, it can be stressful, especially when there is not a lot of time to prepare for it. It’s the responsibility of the organization to identify potential obstacles and work towards removing them.
We recently conducted surveyed a variety of industries to understand what changes are being implemented or considered as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. From the challenges of managing newly remote staff to understanding the mental and physical well-being of our workforce, it’s clear from survey responses that we are all taking strides to achieve successful organization change. Following this process for successful organizational change will help make everyone on the team believe that the change is a good one.
7 Steps for Successful Organizational Change
While people may expect surprises on holidays and birthdays, no one likes to be surprised at work. When planning to implement organizational change, it’s critical to clearly communicate to the organization’s vision. Create a vision that employees will be proud of and want to be a part of. The more they can visualize and identify with what the outcome of the change will be, the more accepting they will become. Don’t think that you have to have all the answers upfront either. You can communicate that an issue has become apparent and that you’re working on finding a solution. Leaders often think that they have to have all the answers all the time. But allowing room for vulnerability is often a powerful quality in a leader.
2. Be Transparent
When you communicate it’s important to offer as many details as possible. It’s not enough to communicate vision but also logistics. The who, what, where, when and why all matter. The more information employees have the more comfortable they will be. And that sets you and the business up for implementing successful organizational change.
3. Share the Decision Making Process
As upper management, you don’t need to seek approval for how you came to your decisions. But if you can clearly share the thought process for why it’s critical to make this change now, what options were considered and what the consequences of not taking action would be, then you’ll be able to foster greater understanding and acceptance from your employees.
4. Get Influential Buy-in
Within every organization, there are people of influence. Those influencers aren’t always top leaders. Tenured staff and team leads can have lots of personal pull. Before communicating to the whole organization, enlist the support of key influential staff. Perhaps you can even involve them in the evaluation process if it makes sense. But getting their buy-in first can make over all buy in easier to achieve.
5. Ask for Feedback and Offer Support
It only takes a modicum of emotional intelligence to realize that employees want to be heard. Make sure they have an opportunity to voice concerns. An open discussion or a company survey can help your leadership team understand the concerns and issues you’ll need to help them overcome. If new skills need to be learned ensure them that training and support will be provided.
6. Encourage Employee Participation Whenever Possible
Successful organizational change is inclusive. When employees are active participants they feel valued by the organization. Create a task force designed to find a solution to the issue at hand. You can include some of your key influencers here as well. If you can take their opinions into consideration and give them insight into the alternative options that were evaluated and why this plan of action was the one chosen, they will feel a sense of ownership as well that of being valued by leadership.
7. Measure and Communicate Success
The best way to ensure successful organizational change is by measuring it. You can do this in several ways. For example, you can track the number of tickets that come into IT, or the time it takes for a department to resolve issues. Usage reports of newly implemented software systems and survey are also great measurement tools.
Once you’ve measured the results, be sure to communicate successes. Even reporting small wins along the way can help critics come around. These small successes will help propel the initiative forward. It also builds trust and encourages an environment dedicated to continuous improvement.