Steps for Organizational Change

Managing change requires effective planning.
Managing change requires effective planning. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Managing organizational change -- downsizing, introducing a new section or merging with another company -- requires skill. Although change in today’s fast-paced world is often essential to keep up with the times and new trends, some people have a natural tendency to resist. They prefer to do things the way they have always done them, because it is known territory and, therefore, safer. Organizational change can be sabotaged if key team members refuse to comply with new policies or strategies, so it is important to involve all the stakeholders in the organizational change process.

Assess the need for change. Avoid falling into the “change for change’s sake” trap. List the organizational changes that need to occur in the organization. It may include things like a new sales direction or adding a new department.

Create a sense of urgency and purpose. For change to be effective people have to get on with it. To plan to change something over 10 years may be a long-term strategy, but short, sharp measures work best when it comes to organizational change.

Determine the change methodology: top-down or bottom-up. If the organizational change is coming from the president down, people have two choices: They can adapt or find another job. Bottom-up change incorporates a team approach, and makes people feel as though they were involved in the organizational change, rather than having it forced on them.

Craft a vision statement. Give people in the organization a picture of the change and why it is important to the organization as a whole, and to them as individual employees. People are more willing to accept change if they can see a reason or a purpose.

Get people on-side with the proposed change. Have meetings and open forums. Encourage people to speak up and express their opinions about the changes. If employees feel involved, they are more likely to take ownership of the change process.

Identify obstacles to change. Be realistic and look at the change process from various angles. Spot the people who might oppose the change and calculate how to best deal with their opposition. Also examine how structural changes will affect the overall operation of the organization.

Implement change. Pick a date the new policy will take effect and stick to it. Follow up with email, notices or other reminders to let everyone know that the changes are now in place and that all employees are expected to comply.

Evaluate change. Once the changes have been implemented, monitor and assess them as the organization evolves. Build monthly, quarterly and annual assessments into your change plan to make sure it stays on track.

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