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3 simple ways to make Change Management much more bearable

Many organisations are threatened by the thought of change. From top executives to employees, the common perception they have is that change is challenging, tedious and often times brings conflict, leaving bad taste in everyone’s mouth.

A research initiative by McKinsey & Company showed that on average 70% of organisational changes fail. Such statistics are enough to make any organisation dread the change process. As much as this data is reliable, organisations need to embrace change since it is inevitable. The best ways to deal with change is preparing for it even before it happens. Though change management is not easy, it can be made bearable and managed to success through the following three simple ways:

1. Equip employees with knowledge, skills and practice

Many organisations’ executives are aware that training is one of the ways to make transition easier when change is taking place. However, a weeklong training program is unlikely to be sufficient to cover long term change needs for the organisation. To perfect a skill and retain knowledge, there is need for continuous training and practice of the new skills until employees are conversant in those new skills and processes. To gain mastery, a skill has to be practiced over and over. Top management should therefore ensure that there is proper and continuous training to during the transition period.

Introduction of knowledge and skills should be done well before any change is due for implementation. The more the employees practice the acquired skills, the more they will be ready to accommodate change when it is brought upon them.

2. Maintain a positive organisation culture

While some organisational change can be planned for, other forms of change can be unexpected and disruptive. If an organisation is ill-prepared, it can be shaken and damaged by having to change the status quo. Cultivating a positive culture in an organisation is not only beneficial in creating an environment favourable for employees, but acts as a safe cushion when disruption occurs.

A positive work culture is one that is open-minded, flexible, and well-equipped to handle change. Employees in this kind of environment are encouraged to be creative, share ideas and be innovative. Delegation also empowers employees in such a way that they are able to make decisions when faced with tough choices. When change is brought upon them, they are open to it and have the right skills and attitude to transition to the desired position of the organisation.

3. Proper communication and conflict management

Any form of change affects people in different ways. The organisation is a collection of different kinds of people; from opposers to acceptors, early adaptors to laggards, change resistors and those who are open to change. These different kinds react very differently to change.

Many are likely to feel uncertain about how the proposed change will affect them. Communication is therefore very important to explain the why, what and when surrounding the change. Lack of proper communication increases uncertainty and conflict. Organisations top executives should develop a culture of communicating with employees so that they are psychologically prepared for any form of change. Further, management should have a conflict management plan to deal with conflicts that may arise.

Yes, it is true that change is not easy. However it is achievable and any organisation can have an effective change process, when it is done right.

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