How to prepare for changes in the organization?
Monday, day as usual. First thing in the morning you come to work and take a seat at your desk. Just when you're trying hard to get through the weekend tasks, your supervisor calls a departmental meeting. You don't think long. You rush in to take a good place and drink your first coffee of the day. However, the meeting turns out to stir emotions because you have just learned about the planned changes in your organization.
The most common employees’ reactions to “upcoming changes" are fear and anxiety. Interestingly, such feelings accompany most people at the very thought of any change that is to take place in their private or professional lives. Professor Karol Adamiecki, a Polish management theoretician, put it very well. The rule of Adamiecki's perversity says:
“In all cases where human work is involved, whether physical or mental, the improvement of the organisation must be gradual, otherwise there must be victims of suppressing resistance.”
Changes in the organization have different underlying causes, among them:
people and their reactions,
changes in organizational culture.
The organisation's environment (micro or macro environment).
In order to make changes less worrying there are three phases in the process of their implementation - defrosting, fundamental change and freezing. Treating each of them with due attention may lead to success while downplaying any of them may lead to a significant decrease in the effectiveness of the process.
Below are the four steps that will certainly help you to prepare for changes in your organization.
The first phase of the changeover is defrosting. It is about preparing the whole organization for the process of change. This is the time for planning and division of tasks. The most important thing at this stage is communication. It is worthwhile to inform employees about the upcoming change directly and without unnecessary understatements. In this way you will avoid a wave of gossip and presumptions that may cause chaos, anxiety and fear. Tensions in employee moods can also lead to greater resistance which they will jointly create in the face of upcoming changes. Even the most difficult change should be communicated openly to employees, also to give them time to get used to it. When communicating with employees, you should clearly define the reasons for the change, the consequences of not implementing it and the benefits of its introduction.
The so-called force field analysis will also be useful in this phase. This is an analysis that allows you to define potential sources of hindering forces, for example, people who can influence the negative course of the change. In this way, you will ensure an adequate and proportional number of sources of driving force, i. e. those that will ensure that the change, despite the negative impacts, will be successful.
A fundamental change is a phase when changes actually become visible. This is the moment of the change itself. At this stage, specific support must be given to workers in terms of training and guidance on the changes made.
This phase is strongly associated with the previous one. If the freezing phase has been treated without due attention, this will result in negative emotions among employees due to fear of the unknown. Then you will have to keep calming down the mood. If defrosting has been successful, focus on monitoring and communicating the next stages of the change at the implementation stage.
The last phase is freezing, i. e. the completion of the change and the start of operations in accordance with the new rules. This is the moment when employees need to be clearly communicated of the fact that the implementation has been completed and the new rules apply. It is important to limit as far as possible the possibility for employees to act in accordance with the old rules, bearing in mind that more reluctant employees may try not to comply with the changes introduced. Talk to employees, try to explain and show the change in a different light than the one in which they see it.
Changes are like a journey into the unknown. You swim into deep water without seeing the shore, but you follow a set course to your destination. However, you may not be sure if each change will be good for the organization. That's why - react! Talk to employees about their feelings, monitor their work efficiency and check how they fit into the new situation. Be flexible in what is happening and remember that the world does not end with just one change.
Changes in the company do not have to be connected only with negative emotions. They can be carried out efficiently and without problems. However, the most important thing is that each person in your organization understands the goal of the changes introduced in the organization. Some of the motives for their formation can be: increasing profit, efficiency, productivity - that is, the company’s success in a broad sense. The key to this is proper communication and awareness that no one who wants to change the world can do it alone.
If you need help managing changes in your organization, please contact us. You can read about transparency and building trust in teams in our previous article.