How to Manage the Ever-Increasing Rate of Organizational Change

A picture of a meter that goes from slow start to extremely fast

Organizational change is a given for most leaders and employees. What keeps our heads spinning, however, is the increasing rate of change. It seems to happen faster and faster.

Businesses are thus challenged to adapt more often, more quickly. Even if your leadership can keep up with the pace, how about your work force?

Rapid and frequent change puts extraordinary pressure on your employees…both personally and professionally. What can you do to mitigate the negative effects?

Here are four organizational change management tips on the most crucial aspect of managing change well—how you communicate it.

  1. Begin with the big picture.
    It is important to craft this introductory message carefully. Do not present too many details. They don’t matter to the general workforce and they won’t be remembered. Stay at a high level as you paint a clear and compelling picture of what needs to change. And remember how powerful visual images can be. If, for instance, you are losing follow-on business because your service and sales folks have not been trained in how to up- or cross-sell, perhaps an image of a cowboy lassoing a runaway horse would stick in employees’ minds to illustrate the change needed.
  2. Reassure.
    Empathize with the disruption the change will cause your workers. But stress that you have confidence that they can and will handle the change. You are there to support them and to answer any questions or concerns. Using the example of building follow-on business, outline the plan for training them in how to more fully engage customers and present expanded solutions. Make sure they know you appreciate their contributions to date. They were not doing anything wrong…they can just learn to do it better for the good of all.
  3. Explain the rationale.
    Now you can bring in some of the statistics. This is the point at which you need to convince your work force that the change is in their best interests too…not just in the interest of the company leaders. If Company XYZ is your main competitor, you can show how they are gaining ground simply because they have cracked the code on selling successive products. Unless you change the way your team is selling solutions, you will continue to lose ground. But you are confident that when your sales reps know how to sell more effectively, you will regain your former edge in the market. As a company leader, you will need to check in frequently to see that you truly have employee buy-in and listen for their suggestions on ways to best effect the change.
  4. Discuss how success will be measured.
    Depending on the size of your organization, discussions of the metrics of change may be better handled at the team level. Each employee should be fully informed as to how their job and responsibilities will be altered in light of the proposed change and how their performance will be measured. These should not be “pronouncements from on high” but should be worked out together with the team. The more they are involved in the details of the change from their point of view, the more they will be involved in committing to its success.

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