Many companies have seen significant changes in the labor market, and the need to adjust their current business model. As employers become aware of this new reality, implementing efficient change management is necessary for companies to thrive. However, these policies often make employees feel uncertain and not want to fully embrace the direction a business needs to go. Managers who effectively navigate this period of transition can help make it a smoother experience for everyone.
Change management, according to the American Society for Quality, is the “methods and manners in which a company describes and implements change.” Change management oversees the entire process which includes planning, communication, implementation, and monitoring all new initiatives.
The focus of most change management concentrates on navigating the responses when changes are first introduced. Companies often find that most employees will respond differently depending on their circumstances, and the most common reactions usually include:
Stress – Typically increased when learning how to successfully implement a new policy, process, or system while also managing existing deadlines.
Uncertainty – Not fully understanding how the changes will directly impact their job, and being afraid that their work productivity and quality will decrease.
Lost – Losing the ability to see how they fit within a changing organization, or the fear of seeing their co-workers leave the company due to the new policies that are implemented.
Employees usually react to changes in different ways, and can respond in a manner that can make new initiatives at an organization more difficult for everyone, including:
Being Critical – People who may disagree with a particular policy and share why the proposed initiative won’t be successful, could possibly damper and delay its implementation.
Bystander – Employees who are very neutral and often ignore how the policies affect their job will often take a hands-off approach, and won’t openly criticize or embrace the new changes.
Navigator – Workers who accept the proposed changes and want to learn more about how to effectively navigate the new policies for their job.
According to a Gartner survey, employee support for organizational change has decreased from 74% in 2016 to 38% in 2022. With the introduction of new systems to accommodate hybrid workplaces, employees feel the fatigue from constant change initiatives. Also, implementing changes too fast or extremely slow can often overwhelm employees who may be reluctant to accept a new direction. By introducing change management over a reasonable period of time, employees have a better chance to adapt to the new expectations of the company. The steps for effective change management include:
Define the change: Every change starts with a policy that needs to be clearly defined. Including the reason a specific change is needed, and who will be directly impacted.
Identify the team: By identifying a change management team, everyone is made aware of who is overseeing the project, its importance to the company, and where further questions can be directed.
Develop an implementation plan: Determining how the change will be specifically implemented and the metrics that will be used to oversee the outcomes achieved.
Implement the changes: Roll out each step of the proposed change with consistent communication and additional resources for employees to access to obtain a better understanding of the initiative.
Analyze the data: Review the data and the metrics of the implementation to determine if further modifications are necessary while also addressing any concerns to the new initiatives.
Modify the plan: If the plan gets modified, an improved plan would be implemented and those new results would be analyzed afterwards to determine if more revisions are needed in the future.
After a change has been successfully been implemented, there are many benefits that employers experience, such as:
Improved communication: When employers clearly communicate their initiatives during the change management process they are establishing a clear method for sharing future information. This also sets an example for employees to share any concerns or offer suggestions for improvement to the new policies.
Positive work environment: Employees tend to feel more valued and less stressed if they are actively included in the change management process. Many employees find this to be a more positive work environment versus the top-down initiatives that don’t allow them the opportunity to give any feedback.
Increased productivity: After everyone has been fully trained and is consistently using the new system or process efficiently, the overall productivity tends to increase for the company. As these changes tend to eliminate slower procedures and replace them with more streamlined processes.