Evolving Role of Modern HR_ Part 3. Powerful ways to Lead Organisational Change
5 Powerful Ways to Lead your Organisation through Change
With several organisations undergoing change, one might think that managing change effectively is an expertise that every organization has— right? Wrong.
Mergers, buy-outs, downsizing are few of the ways in which companies can transform literally overnight. While these moves are often embarked by a company to remain competitive, they also result in profound changes to the organisational structure or cause other disruptions. Most changes in organisations fail, partly because of employee resistance, failure to prepare adequately and miscommunication. Helping your employees overcome the anxiety that comes along with such changes can be very challenging.
Here are 5 Powerful Ways to Lead Organisation through Change:
1. Watch and listen:
If you know changes are looming, take the time to watch and listen carefully to your employees. Whether it's a major restructuring or a minor modification to a well-established procedure, change (or even the anxiety over impending change) can unsettle your employees and can negatively impact the workplace. Sometimes employees will express their anxiety directly to you, but other times their anxiety becomes apparent through changes in their behavior or performance. Ensure that you have change champions within your organisation who can help spread positive messages about the change, as well as take the temperature of employee reactions to the change. Take steps to deal with the anxiety that you may detect.
2. Keep the communication channels open and demonstrate genuine concern:
Great leaders realise that they can't achieve their goals if their people aren't performing at their very best. Employees, especially in times of stress and challenge, look to management for solutions. They seek guidance when they feel uncertain and isolated from organisational decisions that are out of their control. Clearly and consistently communicate about the change well in advance of its implementation. Help employees better understand the need for the change and the rationale behind the decisions, as well as the ways the change may affect them. Show that you truly care about your people's welfare by understanding their concerns and by doing whatever you can to help them. This not only helps you solve any problems you have direct influence over, but also helps by allowing them to talk freely about what is troubling them.
3. Engage employees:
Employees who are engaged in the change are more likely to put in the effort necessary to help implement the change and ensure a positive outcome for the organisation. Create high levels of employee engagement during your change process by developing a team approach that includes employee's perspectives from a variety of departments and levels and by assigning and clarifying roles and responsibilities. Increase your focus on the workers who are affected most by the change. Including resistance leaders in the change process to help overcome push back from other employees. Understand and take into account the different motivational factors for each employee.
4. Be positive and look for opportunity:
Remain positive. Challenge your employees to take initiative and seek out solutions and new ideas. Look at your procedures and policies and rework them or propose alternatives with the bottom line in mind. When times are unsettled, it may appear to employees their efforts are not appreciated by management. By encouraging them to take the initiative you help them to keep moving forward, focused on what can or might be done, rather than fixating on events over which they have no control. As a group, come up with creative solutions to the new challenges created by change.
5. Train and prepare:
Provide strong support for the changing environment such as ensuring that managers are provided with the training and information, they need to answer employee questions. If you have the opportunity and the resources, make time available to your employees to learn new skills. Give them an opportunity to prepare for change with more skills or experience. Preparation and training can help them transition more easily into new roles, or look for work in other areas or organisations, should it become a necessity.
While the crystal ball may not be able to tell you exactly what is coming around the corner, reviewing the steps above can help everyone cope better with change and implement them adequately. As Colin Powell says "There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, and learning from failure."
Evolving role of modern HR is a 3-part series. The aim behind this series is to highlight the complexity of HR in today's time, given the increasing workplace demands, growing diversity, the economic turmoil and the constant change happening with organisations.
You can find the first two parts of this series below:
1. From HR Generalist to Change Partner: The Paradigm Shift in HR's Role
2. Embrace Change: 7 Lessons from Who Moved My Cheese Book