How to Manage Change in the Workplace Effectively

Managing change in organizations

To manage change in the workplace takes leadership and skills. Change is always a part of the growth in any business and it is important for the employees to be on board.

Any projects that are related to improving performance or addressing current issues require changes and developing the skills to lead effectively begins with understanding the process.

What Is Managing Change?

Managing change is the process of preparing and supporting employees through changes in the workplace in a successful way.

There could be a new project designed to improve performance or there could be a reallocation of job duties or a change in the technology that is in use. Any changes that are being implemented in the workplace fall under this category.

Why Managing Change Is Important?

Managing change is important because successful change management will increase the chance of a positive outcome. Employees are human and change can bring feelings of stress or insecurity.

A good manager will help to alleviate these feelings and guide the employee down a road that leads to productivity. In the end, the employee will feel good about the change and be proud to have been a part of it. All of this is deeply rooted in successful change management.

Process for Managing Change in the Workplace

Leadership is the most important skill for managing change. In addition, good communication and listening skills, perception skills, and patience are necessary to manage an employee during this time.

The leader needs to manage both the employees who are affected by the change and the actual process of the change, which can be difficult.

Here are steps of how to manage change at work: 

1. Make a Plan

It is critical for a leader to make a plan for the change. Leaders should consider the impact of the change on everyone from the employees to the customers to anyone else who is affected.

In addition, there needs to be a plan for implementing the change itself. A big part of this process is examining all aspects of the change and being clear about what they are.

Read also: How to Manage a Project From Start to Finish

2. Set Goals

Goals are always a positive way of making a plan concrete. People seem to have an easier time understanding why there is a change when they understand what they are trying to accomplish.

It is important to set tangible goals that are attainable and let the employees know what their roles will be in reaching the goal.

Another important aspect of goal setting is to articulate where the business is now and where it will be once the goal is reached.

When these concepts become more concrete in the minds of employees, it is much easier to get them to sign up for the new approach.

3. Define and Update on the Change

The change should be defined in the beginning, although the starting changes may not take you all the way to the final product. For that reason, it is important to give updates along the way.

Let the employees know what has happened as a result of the changes and what more needs to happen. By providing regular updates, employees won’t feel as though you are constantly changing the plan.

They will understand that the entire shift is a movement and as goals are met, new ones will appear.

4. Acknowledge Employees’ Efforts

If you make a change and nobody ever hears of the old program, people who worked hard may feel less motivated or upset.

When you engage in a workplace culture that focuses on rewards and recognition, you acknowledge the contributions of those people.

You never want people to feel underappreciated and the way to make sure of this is to acknowledge those who have made contributions even if the company is moving in a different direction now.

5. Share Difficulties and Listen

It is important to inform the employees of difficulties. Once you do so, listen. As a matter of fact, listen throughout the process.

Effective management of any kind is rooted in good listening skills so that you can cut a situation off before it builds up momentum.

6. Join Forces with Respected Employee Peers

The easiest way to gain support for change is to join forces with employees who are respected among their peers. If you can get them on your side, it can go a long way towards simplifying the process.

When Managing Change Learning Interventions Should Be Used

Learning interventions help to align the goals of employees with those of the company. In addition, learning interventions can help employees to stay up to date with the necessary changes that allow the company to remain competitive.

For example, if the company needs to upgrade to new technology, it is in their best interest to provide learning interventions to teach the employees how to use the new technology.

Learning interventions can be used to help manage just about any type of change that you are implementing and these methods will ease the transition because the employees will know exactly what is expected of them.

Key Challenges of Managing Change in the Workplace

As with anything, there are certain challenges that will come up when you are managing change. It all starts with the process and the challenges will appear if any part of the process was weak.

For example, if you didn’t have an effective plan in place, everything could fall apart.  Plan by creating a timeline for the change but be sure to factor in breaks and downtime.

Another challenge is the conflicts that can arise. When conflict arises between employees or staff, it is important to address it right away. Don’t ever let it blow up out of proportion.

The conflict may expose you to a problem with your change process and it may help you correct it. Either way, be sure to address all conflicts right away.

Setbacks can also pose a challenge to managing change. You must remember that setbacks are an ordinary part of most processes and they are simply another challenge to overcome.

If you have led your team and they are behind you on the project, you will be able to bounce back from the setback in no time. You simply need to redesign the change process so that it heads back in the right direction.

A difficult challenge is employee resistance. It is important to remember that by nature, people resist change. People are creatures of habit and familiarity.

The best way to prevent resistance is to make the goals of the change clear and define everyone’s role. In addition, having the support of a few strategically chosen staff members can make a huge difference.

Managing Change Risk

The most significant risk is that the changes won’t bring about the desired result. The point of the change is success and improvement; if the change doesn’t make this happen, then you are worse off.

There are other risks such as resistance from employees, disruption of work, a lack of leadership, or forced change. Any of these will cause you to stop and reevaluate your change management plan.

Managing Change Skills

The most important indication that the change will be successful is how the leadership handles the change management process. There are critical skills that are necessary for anyone to manage change.  Take a look at the following:

  • Communicate Well: Good communication is mandatory. It can help reduce employee resistance, increase motivation and productivity, encourage collaboration, and obtain insightful feedback. There is nothing more important than being a good communicator.
  • Lead: To manage change, a leader will lead by example, give direction so that employees know how to get started and what to do, and have a vision.
  • Be Visionary: Motivating employees during organizational change is essential.  A visionary leader is able to show employees what direction they are heading in and get inspired.  
  • Plan and Analyze: A leader has to have a solid plan and he or she must analyze the results along the way.
  • Be Flexible: Flexibility is critical to leadership skills. A good leader has to handle unexpected obstacles and continue moving forward even when it is necessary to regroup.

Managing Change Types

There are different types of change management.

  • Organizational Change Management: This often focuses on the people involved. It includes mergers, culture transitions, restructuring, or change in processes.
  • Program Change Management: This involves changes to projects to make sure that the goals are met.
  • Project Change Management: This is the change during every phase of a project from cost changes to quality, risks, and benefits.
  • Departmental or Team Change Management: This involves a change within departments and it is usually done to improve the success or outcomes of projects from that department.

Organizational Culture

Changing an organization’s culture is challenging. Employees who have been working in an organization for a while become comfortable with the goals, processes, practices, and expectations that they are accustomed to.

When this changes, people can become very insecure.  So, motivating employees during organizational change is very important. 

What Is Workplace Culture Change?

Workplace culture change is basically any change that alters the goals, processes, values, assumptions, or expectations within an organization. Examples of good workplace culture can focus on sharing and caring.

People work better when they feel valued. Another type of workplace culture is results-oriented with a focus on competition, achievement, and getting the job done.

Organizations might change from a workplace culture of mentoring, nurturing, and rewarding to one of efficiency, stability, and doing things the right way.

These two cultures have different objectives and goals and it can be hard for employees to make the switch. It takes a strong leader to bring it about.

Another possibility is that the organization is shifting from a workplace culture of individuality to one of promotion, recognition, and collaboration.

Maybe the organization has goals of encouraging employees to be innovative or creative, trying new things, or being the first to do something.

Whatever the workplace culture is, workplace culture change is when the organization shifts to a new style of workplace culture.

It involves getting all of the employees on board and enthusiastic about the process.  And also motivating employees during organizational change.

Strategies in Managing Change

Managing change requires strategic thinking and there are tools that will help to make any transition more smooth.  Here are a few effective strategies to implement:

◆ Offer incentives to employees
◆ Redefine the workplace culture
◆ Exert authority
◆ Create a new environment
◆ Enlist respected peers

All of these strategies will make managing change easier.

Managing Unexpected Change

An unexpected change can become a disaster quickly if it isn’t managed well. For example, if a negative news story about the company or an official in the company surfaces, it is necessary to do damage control.

If a company suffers financial losses that were unexpected, it may need to restructure quickly. This type of change is difficult to manage.

The first step is to acknowledge the change. Employees will probably get wind of it and you don’t want any rumors developing and creating panic.

Plan how you will communicate and what the first steps will be. Share this information with the employees.

You should have an emergency unexpected change plan in place so that you can handle the initial steps quickly. Whether there is a natural disaster that impacts the business, a bankruptcy, or a change of leadership at the top, be prepared so that you can minimize the damage.

Managing Unpopular Change

An unpopular change can bring about resistance, conflict, and a loss of productivity. The important thing is to turn the situation around as quickly as possible.

Supporting employees through change while building trust with them is essential.  Enlist people who have the influence to support your change. You can offer incentives; most of all, be sure to communicate and let the employees know that you are there to talk.

Managing resistance to change is difficult but keep the lines of communication open and it will turn around more quickly.

Managing Change in a Unionized Workplace

To manage change in a unionized environment, it is critical that the union be on board with the change. You need to speak to the union representatives and work together with them.

Let them know that you will provide all of the necessary training and build trust. In addition, you need to present them with the facts on why this will be a benefit.

Managing change with integrity will go a long way towards winning the representatives over.

How do you manage change at work?  I will be pleased if you leave your comments in the box below

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