Change within an organization can occur at many levels and to differing degrees. When a major shift in a company must take place, it is understandable that employees may be nervous and apprehensive about their perceived outcome of the situation. How this change is effectively managed by the organization is critical for both short-term and long-term reasons.
It is important to realize that many organizations do not succeed in change management because they forget that while the company may have changed, people’s attitudes have not; managers need to get their employees to “buy-in” to the change with both their heads and their hearts. Employees need to feel involved from the beginning, otherwise it will be much more difficult to get them on board. They also need to hear from the CEO and senior management why it is important for the change to occur, and that their feedback matters. Meetings need to occur throughout this entire process and there should be a way for employees to give suggestions confidentially.
The specific leadership style that is employed can also have a dramatic influence on how effective the change management process goes. Typically, the more respected and trusted a leader is perceived as being, the more likely that staff may approve or accept the changes. Some leaders’ styles may need to be re-examined so that positive change can occur. Employees in today’s business world will accept changes easier when they know why they need to happen, as well as feel involved in the change process.
When looking at whom to involve in spearheading these projects, key staff need to be utilized and this may not be only managers. Like many companies, supervisors know the major functions and processes of their employees, but at a high level. Those that perform the tasks on a regular basis already know the pros and cons of the processes. In some circumstances, these employees may actually be better leaders than the managers, and there certainly is a difference between the two. Managers administer, control, and do things right, while leaders innovate, inspire and do the right things.
Keep in mind that even if all of these steps are followed, staff resistance may still be present. Remaining as proactive as possible, though, will drastically decrease this possibility. To maintain a low level of resistance, key staff should continue to keep this topic as an agenda item at all-staff, departmental and individual meetings. Regular and consistent communication between leadership and the rest of the company must remain a top priority, too. It is also crucial that any early successes by acknowledged and recognized, both individually and within specific teams.
Finally, as much as employees need to celebrate new beginnings, there should be opportunities for them to deal with the potential loss of coworkers, comfortable work processes and confidence in their own capabilities. By recognizing this, it can become easier to deal with the transition.
How organizational change is managed makes a major difference as to how smooth the transition ends up being. By actively communicating, involving staff and staying focused, successful change management may occur.
Jeremy joined Empathia (then NEAS) in 2007 as Manager, Client Care Services, then became an Account Manager/Sales Consultant in 2012. He is also a certified wellness and tobacco cessation coach. Jeremy has a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a master’s degree in Organizational Management. Prior to joining Empathia, he spent 14 years in the EAP industry in a variety of roles with another behavioral healthcare organization. Jeremy enjoys reading, photography, music, and spending time with his wife and daughters.