When an organization changes — whether it’s something as drastic as a merger or as seemingly innocuous as a new software system — employees may feel threatened. People tend to desire stability and order as opposed to disruption and uncertainty.
Employers can minimize the negative fallout from such shifts in direction through a carefully considered, formalized approach called change management. Organizational change management involves creating a customized plan for ensuring that affected employees receive the awareness, leadership, training and coaching needed to change successfully. Here’s a closer look at why such an approach is necessary.
Take employees’ perspective
People resist change in an organization for many reasons, among them:
- A loss of security or status (whether real or perceived),
- Inconvenience and unfamiliarity,
- Distrust of their employers’ motives, and
- Simply thinking the “old way is better.”
Employees naturally get nervous when they feel their jobs, careers or valued working relationships are on the line because of change.
It doesn’t help the situation when certain initial changes appear to make employees’ jobs more difficult. For example, moving to a new location might enhance an organization’s image or provide more productive facilities. But doing so also may increase some employees’ commuting times or put employees in a drastically different working environment. When their daily lives are affected in such ways, employees tend to question the decision and experience high levels of anxiety.
Avoid a breakdown
Often when employees resist change, an organization’s decision-makers can’t understand how ideas they’ve spent weeks, months or years carefully deliberating could be so quickly rejected. They forget that employees haven’t had this time to contemplate and get used to the new ideas themselves. Instead of helping to ease employee fears, executives or supervisors may double down on the change, more strictly enforcing new rules and showing little patience for disagreements or concerns.
And it’s here that the entire implementation effort can break down and start costing the organization real dollars and cents. Employees resist change in many destructive ways, from taking very slow learning curves to new procedures to calling in sick when they aren’t to filing formal complaints or lawsuits. Some might even quit. So, by not engaging in change management, you’re more likely to experience reduced productivity, bad morale and increased turnover.
Recognize the importance
The specific steps you can take to effectively execute change management will depend on the size and nature of your organization as well as what kind of change you’re implementing. But it’s important to first familiarize yourself with its importance. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to our firm for more information on successfully implementing change.