To remain competitive in the market, companies must evolve and adapt to the changing climate. But organizational changes—whether big or small—can be disruptive to the workforce if you don't have strong change management.
Many companies tend to be ineffective at organizational change. It's not as simple as just changing the name from the CEO’s office, deciding to merge with another successful company or undergoing a shift in culture. For change to be successful, it often helps when you take into account every aspect of the company—from the culture to the top leaders and even part-time staff. There are several strategies for change management you might consider adopting before you make any shifts within the organization.
Start at the Top
To initiate any type of change, consider forming a team that will lead the charge. But ensure that people at the helm of the change ship are competent and aligned on the cause.
Change managers aren’t just the strategy people, despite it being an important part of their role. These folks should ideally be effective communicators so they can clearly spread the word in the organization.
Ask for Feedback
Many organizations ask for feedback after they’re already shoulder-deep in their change initiative. But you may be more likely to succeed if you begin the change with the feedback already in hand.
Employee engagement survey tools that help you gain insight from employees on the frontline who are affected by the day-to-day change may help streamline the change process.
Define the Change
It’s often not enough to just tell your employees that change is coming. Consider establishing goals for transitions. While you can simply tell your employees change will “accelerate growth,” it’s often much better to set concrete goals that can be measured.
To do so, consider making the goals “SMART”: Specific, Measurable, Action Oriented, Realistic and Time Bound. You’ll not only be able to measure your progress, you'll also hopefully give your employees something solid to work toward.
Overcomplicating matters may just make your employees confused and overwhelmed. Keep things simple. Avoid trying to do too much at once. Stick to a goal. Define it with simplicity.
Do It in Sections
Consider beginning by introducing the change into only one section of the company, which will act as the “treatment group.” The rest of the company—the unchanged section—will be the control group.
Doing this may allow you to figure out the difference in productivity, morale and finances, which may ultimately determine whether the change has potential for success across the entire organization or if you should do more tinkering before escalating it.
Don’t Stick to Numbers
Remember those defined goals? Don’t just make them about finances and figures. The emotional aspect may be just as important. Ensure there’s an emotional drive toward making a change. You can’t overestimate the value of a dollar, and you can’t underestimate heartstrings.
Adopt Recognition Programs
Consider setting standards by recognizing employees who are aiding the change. Tailor the rewards to specific actions and company values so other employees know what type of behavior might garner a reward. It may also show that you truly appreciate and acknowledge your employees during this difficult time.
Keep Communication Lines Open
It’s not efficient to communicate change and then assume that employees are ready to go. Instead, look for feedback—and do it constantly. Consider leveraging surveys, team meetings and company-wide emails to ensure all employees are on the same page. Then you might use that feedback to adjust your change strategies.
Organizational change can undoubtedly be stressful. But it may be stressful for all employees, from the top down, which is why it may be helpful to maintain employee morale through clear communication, feedback and employee recognition.
Read more articles about strategic planning.
A version of this article was originally published on November 2, 2015.