Organizations must change and adapt regularly to maintain pace with competitors in a quickly changing business environment. Change can occur because of a variety of internal and external factors, over which organizational leaders sometimes have very little or no control. For example, a business might be forced to change its practices because of changing rules and regulations or because of advancing technology. Fortunately, there are steps that organizational leaders can take to lessen the impact of change on employees.
There is comfort found in standing still. It is only natural that employees facing a drastic organizational change wonder how that change will impact them on an individual level. Improperly managed organizational change can create fear among the ranks, which impacts job satisfaction, performance and productivity. Workers could lose confidence, fearing a loss of job stability. They may also fear that changes will increase their workload or that they will not be capable of learning how to use new technology. Organizations must combat these fears and lessen the impact on employees.
The term “organizational culture” commonly is used to refer to the nature or personality of an organization. A company may have a positive organizational culture, marked by open communication and trust in organizational leadership, or it may have a negative culture in which workers have little trust in their leaders. The effect of organizational change on employees often depends on the culture of the organization. Additionally, a negative organizational culture has the capability of hindering change, making necessary transitions more difficult for employees to bear.
Effective change management is essential to streamlining the change process and reducing the negative impact on employees. When organizational changes are properly managed, workers perceive the benefits of a proposed change and accept the change. Workers benefit from properly managed change in a variety of ways. For example, a technological update may offer employees the opportunity to learn new skills. New technology can also increase job satisfaction by reducing the workload.
Effective communication is essential to obtaining buy-in and lessening the impact of organizational change on employees. Leaders must communicate with employees to ensure they understand why the change is taking place and are on board with the implementation of a change. When workers are given the opportunity to voice their concerns and provide feedback on changes, they are more likely to accept and participate in the change management process, ensuring the change takes place in a productive and successful manner.
- Peter Barron Stark Companies: Why Employees Resist Change
- Schuler Solutions; Resistance to Change; Overcoming Resistance to Change: Top Ten Reasons for Change Resistance; A. J. Schuler, Psy. D.; 2003
- Free Management Library: Organizational Culture
- CIO; Change Management Definition and Solutions; Geoff Koch; April 9, 2007
- Smart Procurement; Unleashing employee potential through change management; Dec. 2, 2010
Amanda L. Webster has a Master of Science in business management and a Master of Arts in English with a concentration in professional writing. She teaches a variety of business and communication courses within the Wisconsin Technical College System and works as a writer specializing in online business communications and social media marketing.