Managing Change in the Workplace

It has been said that the “only certainty is change.” Senior Strategic Partner, Charles Parnell, brings an interesting topic to our series on Workforce Development….Change, and what causes it, the impact, and what mangers and leaders need to do to embrace change and manage it in the workplace. Enjoy this week’s Power Idea.

Managers are faced with a paradox. They are told to change their organization or risk it perishing; at the same time they are told that their organization is at risk of perishing because of the disruptive impact of the change. Up to 86 percent of U.S firms are involved in a major organizational change although many are deemed not successful. Successful mangers and leaders are examining the underlying reasons for organizational changes. They know that they must develop a practical plan to address the changes to move their organizations forward and be competitive in their industry. Here are some reasons for organizational changes:

  • Resource base decline as a result of reduced demand for products and sales
  • Decrease in market share
  • Bad investments
  • Strategic pressures driving the organization to new situations or entering new markets
  • Response to internal and external pressures – from the senior management, external customers and stakeholders
  • Pressure to better integrate the organization, especially in the form of better teamwork, common values and mindsets to produce collaboration and cooperation that are needed to better achieve organizational outcomes
  • Fashion pressures – meeting or exceeding the successful strategies and outcomes of the competitors in your industry
  • Mandated pressures – laws , executive orders and government regulations
  • Market conditions – interest rates, cost of raw materials and finished goods, transportation costs and labor cost
  • Geopolitical pressures – for multinational organizations

It has been documented that if organizations do not intellectually understand these changes, they will not survive in this century and beyond. It must be understood that while organizations are addressing changes as a result of the foregoing and developing changes in their practices and culture, they will face resistance. Here are some causes of individual resistance:

  • Fear of the unknown
  • Poor communication – from their manager as to the nature and reason for the change initiative
  • Lack of trust of their manager
  • Fear of failure
  • Loss of status
  • Economic factors
  • Selective information processing
  • Habit

Organizational leaders and mangers must educate their people regarding the nature of the change and the reason(s) for the changes. They must invite the participation of organizational members regarding the strategies to successfully implement the change initiatives. They must understand the different levels of understanding and tolerance for significant change initiatives of their members. It is a fact that organizations are dynamic and not static. They are organic and a microcosm of the larger society. Organizational change will move the organization and its members to a higher level of competency.

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