Avoid. That’s the word that flashes through most people’s minds when they see or feel change. It’s human nature. We like to be comfortable. We like knowing what to expect. Change removes comfort and invites the unexpected in. For this reason, creating change throughout an organization is challenging. Complaints start to flood in. Work slows to a near halt. But it doesn’t have to be like this. You can manage organizational change in a way that allows everyone in the organization to feel more comfortable, to see the benefits that will eventually materialize, and to willingly work to understand and embrace the change. This is where change management comes in.
1. What Organizational Change Is
Change management sounds like another typical buzz word phrase that millennials made up to make their job sound more exciting. It’s not. Change management is actually that–managing change. More specifically, it is developing a structured approach to help organizations, groups and individuals transition from one way of operating to another, more desirable way of operating. In other words, the world is changing and evolving. The economy and business world are too. Organizations need to keep up. Change management helps individuals, who are normally against change, to accept it and commit to it.
2. Why Organizational Change Matters
The importance of change management extends both to the individuals in the organization and the organization as a whole. There is obvious overlap between the two categories when it comes to minimizing resistance, enhancing motivation, increasing engagement, reducing costs and improving performance. More specifically, though, the organization will see an increased return on investment because instead of the change failing or taking longer than necessary, the organization adapts quickly. A strong change management process also reduces the risk of the change failing in the organization. Additionally, a change management plan illustrates the benefits of the change, meaning the individuals in the organization will have a clear understanding and a singular vision–better communication, better customer service, etc.
As for the benefits of change management to the individuals, there are several. This type of process offers leadership development opportunities to those in charge of the organization or in charge of teams within the organization. The workforce will also feel more supported and included when the change process is managed and laid out for them, meaning less stress, disloyalty to the organization and anxiety. And finally, individuals in the organization will feel a part of the change process, more a part of the organization, and will independently take steps to better collaborate. Just like when you’re recruiting new talent, you need to put them in top-of-the-line housing or find them a suitable rental to show how much you care, with current employees you need to treat them with top-of-the-line respect and communication.
3. How Organizational Change Can Go Wrong
The phrase change management gets thrown around a little too loosely. Organizations create a vague plan and call it change management. That’s not how change management works. This can be compared to poor packaging. If you fail to work with a company like SLC custom packaging, your product might be so generic that it confuses customers. If your plan isn’t structured and thorough, you’ll see little success.
When creating the change management plan, organization leadership often fail in one or more of six key categories. The first category is sponsorship. If anyone at the senior executive level is not on board, this seeps down to the lower levels and becomes contagious. The second category is buy-in. If anyone in the organization, who is directly or indirectly involved or affected, does not buy-in to the change process it slows things down. The third category is involvement. If key people are left out of the design and implementation of the plan, many of the right changes won’t be made–that means staff who are highly respected, those in leadership roles, and those who have experience in management. The fourth category is impact. If the impact of the changes on individuals is not assessed and addressed, staff will feel that the change plan has already failed and abandon it. The fifth category is communication. If individuals, who will be affected by the change, are not told about the change, it will only cause confusion and stress. The sixth and final category is readiness. If the workforce does not get the right information, help and training in regards to the changes, they won’t be capable of adapting to them.
4. How To Get Organizational Change Right
To get the change management process right you just flip those six categories around. Make sure that the entire leadership level is on board. Make sure that everyone involved and affected buys in. Make sure that you have the right people designing and implementing the plan. Make sure you have explored the impact the change will make and you have communicated that to those who will be affected. Make sure you communicate with everyone who will be affected or involved. But most importantly, make sure your workforce is ready. The last thing you want to do is have to clean shop after a major change.
5. E-learning: Organizational Change Hack
To ensure readiness, the right information is key. But beyond that, you need to emphasize training. E-learning can be a great tool to use for this. This type of training can be used for everything from skills development to industry advancement, such as with REIC’s training offerings. The benefits of online training are numerous. It’s more accessible because it can be accessed on devices from any location–this applies to both the workers who want to train outside of office hours and workers who are scattered across geographic locations. Another benefit is that the gamification of online learning tools has been proven to both improve retention and enhance learner engagement. E-learning is also a more suitable training method for the youngest generation in the workforce–millennials–they prefer it and will appreciate that their organization is making the effort to engage them. Finally, it’s greener because of the reduction in paper consumption, and it’s cheaper–no more paying to rent a space for the entire workforce, hiring a trainer, or cutting into valuable work time.