Effective Communication in Organizational Change

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Successful organizational change requires the use of effective change processes. Communication is a key component of such processes because organizational change relies on changing employees’ behavior. In their article, "A Competency Model for OD Practitioners," writers Eubanks, Marshall and O’Driscoll explain the role of organizational development in change processes when they state, “Organization development focuses on planned change and the systematic application of behavioral science to increase organizational effectiveness.”

Resistance

Employees meet any change with some level of resistance; therefore, plan for resistance. To accomplish this, identify and address the source(s) of resistance. Several ways to counteract and reduce employee resistance include education, communication, participation, support and negotiation.

Attitudes and Behaviors

To obtain the fullest potential benefits from change, employees' attitudes and behaviors are a consideration. Instituting of a quality of work life process to bring employees into the decision-making process and let them be active participants in change is helpful. Design a communications process that allows employees to participate in making decisions and solving potential problems. Identify and address employee stress related to the change process.

Change Agents and Communication

Based on the concepts of organizational behavior and change processes, to ensure minimal resistance and acceptance of change, identify one or more people within the organization who fully support and are committed to the change. Ramirez, in his article, "Organizational development: Planned change in an unplanned, changing world," writes, “Without the total commitment of all group members, the intervention cannot be truly effective.” The committed employees should become change agents and act to introduce the new system or operating methods. Make them responsible for comprehensive and constant communication and for involving employees in decision-making and problem resolution. The change agents change attitudes and behaviors and excite staff to work toward the change. Identify change agents with enough power to effectively deal with resistance.

Communicate with employees about the reasons for change and its implications for them through group meetings and newsletters. Ensure staff understands the vision for the future and their role within the organization. Address employee concerns and fears, offer education and training. Complement this action with support and rewards for employees' successful implementation.

Ask for and value employee participation in the decision by having meetings on the change to facilitate answers to questions. Involve employees in job redesign through job rotation, enlargement and enrichment, and give employees more autonomy in their work. Offer quality of work life mechanisms that provide employees with adequate and fair compensation, the ability to develop themselves as an individuals, a sense of involvement, and a chance to advance within the organization.

Team building is essential; using teams to define the goals of the change process and implementation strategies ensures employee buy-in. Team building also fosters trust and increases openness among staff, thereby giving employees the ability to assess and evaluate their own performance and identify needed alternate strategies.

Job redesign, clear communication and goal setting reduce stress associated with change. Lastly, develop a survey tool to enhance communication and provide feedback on the change. This feedback tool measures the level of employee acceptance and implementation progress.

References

  • Training & Development Journal, A Competency Model for OD Practitioners; Eubanks, J. L., Marshall, J. B. and O’Driscoll, M. P.; November 1990
  • PM, Public Management, Organizational development: Planned change in an unplanned, changing world; Ramirez, S.; October 1994

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