How to Successfully Handle Organizational Change

By: First Union


How to Successfully Handle Organizational Change

Launching organizational change efforts can be tricky. Many such efforts tend to fail or produce outcomes that aren't at all what the CEO intended. Between employee resistance, lack of adequate planning, and a change initiative that is just driven from the top-down, numerous factors play into why so many change efforts do fail. A recent study showed that only on average 25% of transformation initiatives succeed.

One important key with any such change effort: pinpoint the resistance early on and address it. Furthermore, it is imperative that in addressing those who might oppose any changes, you do so in a way that empowers not only them but your entire team. Below are some ways that you can facilitate organizational change within your company.

Start small. When approaching organizational change, many tend to do so with some sort of kickoff on a large scale. Of course, they want to get everyone excited, create that sense of momentum moving forward, and communicate to all stakeholders what is going on so that everyone can be on the same page. However, depending on how transformative the change in question, it could very well be met with resistance from one or more pockets within the organization. In starting so broadly, all you are going to do is compel the opposition to resist the changes even more so.

The most successful campaigns of this nature begin with a small group of people. Those who are on board and who are excited about realizing the changes outlined. These team members then in essence become leaders, sent to go out, and convince their peers of the necessity of change. It is a grass-roots style campaign and has proven far more effective than merely instituting a massive, all-at-once top-down effort. Start with a few such groups as needed, encourage them to take that initiative, and sell the benefits of change to their colleagues.

What is that keystone change? Change begins because of a need, a gap, or some other such dysfunctional entity within the company. For example, you need across the board cost cuts. Or perhaps customer service is badly lagging. Take that particular problem and use it as a basis for broadening the company vision and thus making the kinds of changes that will serve you multidimensionally moving ahead. So in other words, you are not merely addressing said grievance, but also paving the way for a more dynamic future. Many problems are interconnected; in addressing one through change, you stand to address numerous issues within the business model as it stands. Starting with that keystone change too makes it so that the task of change in and of itself does not seem quite so monumental, but rather far more tangible and more handleable.

Go to your network. Many widespread and larger changes are often associated with a single leader or figurehead of some sort. Case in point, the civil rights movement is largely connected to Martin Luther King Jr. And while certainly, King was that vital face of the movement, the inspirational voice spurring many to action, he was also one of six major civil rights figures during that particular era. That is to say, he did not hasten such a movement alone. He leveraged the system of relationships he had and the interactions he engaged in with other key leaders of the civil rights movement to effect real and meaningful change nationwide, if not worldwide.

A leader understands how connections are critical, and how fostering an ecosystem of stakeholders is only going to help propel changes going forward. Creating platforms that allow leaders to interact, share ideas, offer advice amid organizational change is one such way you can rely on a network to help. Fortunately, we live in a very interconnected world which makes it so easy for business owners to utilize the expertise and insights of their peers, especially while undergoing major changes within the company.

Follow through. Perseverance and tenacity will keep things moving on a forward path. If you make plans and outline courses of action but then fail to follow through, then those whom you are leading will be apt to dismiss your efforts as futile and irrelevant. You have to encourage your team to embrace, accept, and abide by the changes instituted.

So for instance, if you are shifting to new company policies, be sure to enforce them 100%. If certain policies or procedures are ignored, then it will seem as if they weren't necessary at all and that significantly undermines any efforts you might try and integrate.

Celebrate success. For the most part, the success of your organizational change will hinge on your team coming together. You want them to understand exactly how important they are to the process. To this end, you do want to celebrate achieving certain milestones along the way. If you just wait until all changes have been instituted and successfully applied, your team may grow weary and disheartened throughout the process.

And then once the changes have been adopted, you need to continue to manage them. That is to say, transformation is an ongoing process within the business. The workplace environment after change needs just as much nurturing as during the change efforts. This is why communication with employees is going to become even more critical.

Your post-change environment may require additional training for staff. It may require an adjustment to your company vision overall. Or perhaps you need to locate and attain new resources to help you move forward. Always be communicating with your team and always remember to recognize when in fact that have met crucial goals.

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