Prepare for Organizational Change
While most leaders understand that organizational change can be complicated, few seem to invest the time required to change due to shifts in strategies, markets, cultures, leaders, solutions, systems, people or organizational structures. Especially in the context of a large company, change can evoke emotions that range from delight to outright fear. Similar to the importance of preparing soil for good growing conditions, how you prepare for organizational change will have a direct impact on the conditions for good performance during change.
Whenever the status quo is at risk, employees often worry about how the change will affect them and whether or not they will be able to be successful in the new environment.
Five Essentials to Prepare for Organizational Change
Executive teams typically make extensive investments in setting their company’s strategic direction, but place relatively little emphasis on how to handle the transition from the old way to the new way. This lack of emphasis on how to implement change from a people perspective often creates confusion, anxiety, misalignment and decreased performance. We believe it is the job of leaders to help lead teams through change in the smoothest way possible.
1. Prepare Your Employees
Let employees know what is happening ahead of time. While communicating about change too far ahead of time is not always better, you do not want to have change come as a shock because people were not properly consulted or informed early on.
2. Describe the Change as Completely as You Can
How do you see the change affecting individual employees and the work group as a whole? Identify who will be most affected and approach them first. Let people know what you know, what you do not know and when you can fill in the gaps.
3. Research What Happened During the Last Change
Does your group have a positive history of their ability to manage change or was the last change traumatic? Learn from past experience and let this background influence your current actions regarding what works and what does not work in your unique workplace culture.
4. Assess the Organizational Readiness of Your Team
Are they ready to undertake the desired changes? Each change is unique and requires a specialized approach to ensure positive outcomes. An organization or team that isn’t mentally and emotionally prepared will tend to stay in denial, rather than accept the change and move on. Assess your change readiness.
5. Don’t Make Additional Changes that Aren’t Critical
People need all the stability they can get during change. Don’t change the payroll dates, the working hours or office layout when you are making large scale organizational changes. Change the most important things only, one at a time.
The Bottom Line
You may not always know when a change is in the works, but when it happens you are far from helpless. While there may be much beyond your control, many aspects of implementing change can be anticipated and influenced. Begin change management by being prepared and actively involving your key stakeholders as soon as possible.
To learn more about how to prepare for organizational change, download The 5 New Lenses of Change Leadership
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