To stay competitive in today’s increasingly global marketplace, companies must be able to adapt more quickly and seamlessly than ever before. This means that C-level executives no longer have the luxury of running their companies based on a broadly defined strategic five-year plan. Since opportunities and threats arise more rapidly today, effective managers have to react with increased speed and flexibility. Today, organizational change is a constant.
But people are naturally inclined to resist change, even when it’s designed to benefit them. This is why it’s so important for HR professionals to present upcoming organizational shifts in a way that can motivate their people to support change initiatives. The right approach to managing change can often be the difference between a new initiative’s success or failure. Below are some tips for you to consider next time the winds of change start to blow through your company.
“70% of change programs fail to achieve their goals, in large part due to employee resistance.” – McKinsey & Company
Heads-up: Your tactic to help people prepare
One study found that two-thirds of workers don’t receive enough information when their companies are about to go through significant changes. Failing to tell your people in advance about new policies, procedures, and developments has also been shown to increase misconduct by 42%. It’s important to release change information as soon as possible, then roll out the change in incremental steps. If possible, try to launch a change initiative during a time of year that’s less busy for your people. Giving your team a proper heads up also means being upfront about new timelines and quickly announcing any changes to those timelines.
Transparency: Your key to ongoing conversations
According to PMI’s Pulse of the Profession In-Depth Report: The Essential Role of Communications, 50% of new organization-wide projects fail because of ineffective communications. Your people are more likely to embrace change if they understand management’s reasons behind a new policy or initiative. However, the quickest way to lower your people’s morale is to simply announce a pending change. But providing your people multiple opportunities to weigh in with their hopes and fears about a change initiative will trigger significant improvements in motivation since they’ll feel more personally invested in the new direction your company is embarking on.
People: Your best asset to boost initiatives
Peter Senge, founder of the Society for Organizational Learning, once said that people “…don’t resist change. They resist being changed!” If your team members have no say in a major organizational change that will affect their daily workflow and responsibilities, they’re likely to start feeling resentful about being treated like children. A more effective approach to change management is for your organization to involve as many employees as often possible during a transition period. Managers should make it a priority to involve each employee in meaningful decisions that will affect their specific departments and individual work habits.
Technology: Your agent for change
An MIT Sloan Management Review study found that 63% of managers think that the pace of technological change in their workplaces is too slow. Technology can be a powerful way for a company to make the changes it needs to stay competitive in an increasingly global economy. Indeed, automation can enable your organization to eliminate duplication and even outsource some administrative functions. But before your company purchases software meant to streamline a change initiative, it’s important to analyze how many of your team members will actually benefit from this new technology. This is why it makes good sense to conduct a company-wide audit to identify all the possible functions that multiple departments can share.
HR: Your change management advocate
According to one study, 81% of the projects implemented with effective change management techniques came in on or under budget. HR heads have a major role in ensuring that the need for change is identified, then developed and carried out appropriately. The most successful change initiatives are those facilitated by HR departments that view themselves as much more than change conduits, they’re change agents. By mapping out organizational changes in close consultation with team leaders and C-level executives, HR teams can ensure the success of the next change initiative.
Change may make your people feel uncertain and to an extent, even a little insecure. A threat to stability or the idea of having to condition one’s self to a fresh policy or process can also seem intimidating. By working together and being communicative in regards to the change and its initiative HR is trying to push, an imminent workplace change will become less scary and more widely accepted across a company once kicked off. To learn more about workplace change management, sign up for our webinar.