How to Manage Change in an Organisation

Change is a constant factor in every organization as well as in life. Change is something that needs to be dealt with instead of being faced with resistance. Change is inevitable and how an organization handles and manages change as they happen will determine its stability and success in the near future.

No matter how uncomfortable change may be, it still needs to be acted upon. In most business organizations, human resource tends to be one of the most affected by the change process. Change always involves people. In order for companies to embrace change successfully, it must learn how to let its precious human resource adapt well to the change. This is the main challenge being posed to management- how to make employees embrace and go along with the changes that happen in the organization.

Most employees usually see organizational change in a negative light. It should be expected that such perceptions will pervade in the atmosphere of change. In an ideal setting, employees would wish not to change their situation. Years of working in an accustomed workplace have lead them to form certain work habits which make them more capable in handling their jobs. They also become more comfortable and secure where they are and doing what they do. But when change comes into the picture, all this will change.

It is fear that fuels the negative perceptions of employees on change. They have fears of losing their job, fears of a decreased status or fears of compromising their perceived security, be it social or financial. Sometimes, employees may also be afraid of handling a higher workload that a change in the workplace might bring. And with this change, most employees have the tendencies to primarily react with resistance to change rather than seeing change as an opportunity to make improvements. Most of the times, the reason for their resistance is getting little or incomplete information on how the changes will eventually affect their personal situation in terms of tasks, workload, or responsibilities.

If chance processes lead to redundancies, those who “survived job cuts” still have a negative attitude towards change. One reason may be that they now face additional tasks and responsibilities. Some people may feel guilty for still having their job while others became unemployed. Such emotional reactions may cause additional stress in the changing organization. It might be good for managers to know that this is just a phase.

There are perceived to be seven phases that employees go through when they encounter change in the workplace. They can be listed as follows:

Shock and Surprise- this can take place when employees are confronted with unexpected situations. Such situations can happen by accident such as a company absorbing losses in particular business units that may require job cuts. It can also happen on planned events such as workshops for personal development and team performance improvement that can make people realize that their usual patterns of doing things are no longer suitable for the new conditions. And along with it, their perceived competencies about themselves decrease.

Denial and Refusal- employees try to reason out to support their conviction that change is not really that necessary. They try to believe and convince themselves that there is no need for change. With this developing stand, their perceived competency goes up again.

Rational Understanding– at this phase, employees become better informed and begin to realize the need for change. According to this insight, their perceived competence decreases again. But people may still focus on trying to find short term solutions with still no willingness to change own patterns of behavior.

Emotional Acceptance– this phase is the most crucial part of the change process. If management succeeds in developing a willingness in its employees to rethink and change their values, beliefs, and behaviors, the organization will be able to make best use of their real potentials. But if management fails however, the change processes may likely stop or slow down from here.

Learning and Application– when the employees have accepted the inevitability of change, this creates a new willingness for learning. employees start to try out new behaviors and processes. Through trial and error, the enlightened employees may experience success and failure during this phase. If change managers work to provide employees with some early confidence-boosting wins by starting them on easier projects to work on, this will lead to an increase in their own perceived competencies.

Realization– employees begin to gather more information through continuous learning and exercise. This knowledge begin to have a feedback-effect. Employees begin to know which behavior is effective in a certain situation and which ones isn’t. This opens up their minds to new experiences. These extended patterns of behavior help increase organizational flexibility. Perceived competency has greatly improved to a higher level than what is seen prior to change.

Integration– employees have totally integrated their newly acquired patterns of thinking and acting. The new behaviors become their new routine at the workplace. Change has been successfully established.

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