6 Essential Ingredients for Successful Organizational Change

If there is anything that 2019, 2020, and 2021 have taught us, it’s that change is a part of life. Businesses both large and small have had to transform to adapt to the change that was the COVID-19 era.

Change, when properly effected can help a business maintain its competitive advantages and relevance in the marketplace.

Unfortunately, embracing frequent and continuing organizational change is not always a walk in the park. Attention must be paid to the challenging process of reaching transformation. To help you, here are 6 essential steps.

1. Stick To a Routine.

Organizations that emerge successful in implementing change typically have a clear understanding of where they are now and where they want to go. More than that, however, they are prepared to follow a well-defined process to get there. The process taken to effect change is just as vital as executing change.

How to Do It: Find a tried-and-true approach that you believe will work for your company and the type of change you’re dealing with. Make sure it takes into account the leadership, management, and individual contributor responsibilities. The most effective change management methods pay attention to alignment, execution, and maintenance.

2. Begin With the Top Executives.

As long as a team is led by a blind team, it is bound to go in the wrong direction. In light of this, if you do not have 100% alignment, clarity, and conviction at the top level, all your staff will notice. The result of this? — Obstruction to change, hence your efforts will fail.

Business change management is an intellectual activity for executives and an emotional one for everyone else. While the leadership team is leading the transformation, they may or may not be directly affected. Your folks, on the other hand, will be.

As such, your staff must be assured that the executive team is united, aligned, and personally committed to the transformation. In other words, leaders must model the behavior they wish to see in others. They must set the tone for the rest of the organization by being open about their behavioral changes.

Typically, when managers and frontline personnel are asked about their confidence in a new strategy, they frequently respond with similar ‘rehearsed’ comments. Well, their comments mean nothing because employees take their comments with skepticism since they don’t believe that leaders participate in change. They speak one thing, yet do another which leads employees to reject change. In this sense, leaders must be transparent with their transformation as well.

How to Do It: According to a Booz & Co. Survey in 2013, 54% of CEO do not believe that their organizational change will lead to success. This statistic demonstrates that even the most senior CEOs are not always devoted to change. To change the narrative, engage leaders and align them on their perceptions of the current state of the business, identify impending challenges to success, and define a shared vision of the future.

This builds a strong conviction. It also helps leaders consider the role of culture change in driving strategic success across the organization. The goal of alignment is to achieve clarity that there is minimal opportunity for confusion, distraction, infighting, and disorder. It allows for exceptional accountability and leadership rigor, both of which are essential for effective change management.

3. Consider All Stakeholders’ Requirements and Views During the Change Process.

Seeing change through the eyes of all stakeholders is beneficial for preparation and planning. Whether it is done by completing stakeholder-specific plans or just contemplating the ideas and considerations of customers, employees, managers, and executives, it is vital. 

How to Do It: Before finalizing the overall plan, at the very least, examine the viewpoints of employees, consumers, managers, and partners. This enhances engagement and as such fosters clarity regarding the expectations required by each group.

4. Pay Attention to How Each Person Adopts to Change.

During change, each person goes through his or her unique process. There are usually three stages to this personal transition:

  • Letting Go:

Every transformation begins with a loss or conclusion. People leave behind the way things were in the previous scenario as things change. This is a difficult task for most people.

  • Exploration:

It is also known as the neutral zone and can be a potentially perplexing and frustrating period of transitioning between the old and new ways of doing things.

  • Acceptance:

People can only accept change when they have let go of the past and spent time exploring the future. In this acceptance phase, people start living the change and as such let go of the past.

Executives who are personally impacted by change also go through this process Teven as they direct change. Although leaders are often hesitant to share their weaknesses with their employees when it comes to change, nothing is more powerful than seeing a leader personally committed to changing his or her behaviors and sharing personal change experiences when it comes to leading change.

How to Do It: Leaders and managers must recognize that employees will lose something important, such as their job title or duties. That said, it is, therefore, vital to be empathetic through emails, town hall meetings, or one-on-one talks. Besides this, ascertain that everyone understands the new rules of the road, including what they must change in their processes, behaviors, roles, and responsibilities.

It’s also critical that managers are prepared to guide employees through this shift and provide the appropriate level of clarity when necessary. Note that people will arrive at the final changeover at various times. It will therefore be vital to provide a variety of learning and discussion opportunities. There can’t be a “one-and-done” strategy.

5. Pay Special Attention to Management.

Managers are essential in keeping employees motivated and productive. They also assist leaders and executives in managing change. Unfortunately, more often than not, managers are the group that is most disregarded when it comes to effecting organizational change.

Managers are vital in building the abilities that make the difference between change failure and success. These include coaching, team building, interpersonal skills, and communication. As such, managers must first comprehend the plan before translating it into terms that apply to each employee. If managers can’t operationalize the required transformation, the entire expenditure and effort will be sub-optimized.

How to Do It: Each manager should be provided with the tools and knowledge necessary to fully comprehend the business, including what changes are required and why they are required. They must understand their roles, and many must improve their interpersonal skills, especially during times of change. They must also be able to connect their teams to the rest of the company for them to grasp the “why” and “how” of their work. Finally, they must understand how their teams can achieve results and how this impacts the organization’s strategic objectives.

6. Deal With Opposition Effectively

Resistance is an unavoidable aspect of the change process. When it comes, it’s best to accept it rather than fighting it. When you allow your opposition to have a voice in the room, you diminish the resistance’s voice outside the room.

In light of this, allow people to know that it’s fine to battle with change, but that the “conflict” must be time-limited. Assist in the creation of platforms for individuals to dispute change, discuss it, and then participate in the development of solutions for successful improvements they may make in their positions.

How to Do It: Make it clear that resistance is a natural aspect of change, and that it is to be expected. Being genuinely curious about resistance and how to honor it can assist you in developing even more effective approaches for implementing strategic change. Before moving forward, the leadership team must think carefully about specific goals.

They should then define precise measures for success and come up with piloting and testing concepts for specific areas of the business. This way, they can confirm success and share the results with the resistance. Though the process is slower, it’s shown to be far more effective in terms of change implementation.

I Am Because We Are

Change can only be effected if every person is considered and takes part in the transformation process. No matter how great a strategy is, it is only as good as its employees, managers, executives, and customers. When all involved parties work together, organizational change can be achieved for the betterment of a company!