What is organizational change?
Organizational change is the process of altering an organization’s cultures, technologies, procedures, processes and/or strategies to affect change within the entire organization. This process can either be continuous or take place during a set period of time.
Four types of organizational change
There are four basic types of change that can occur within an organization:
- Strategic transformational change: These types of changes are large scale and completely redefine the company. Some examples include updating the mission statement or introducing new technology.
- People-centric organizational change: Most change affects people, but people-centric organizational change directly affects the people that work for a company. For example, when a company hires new employees, changes job descriptions or alters workplace policies.
- Structural change: Companies often find it necessary to shift the tasks that certain teams, employees and even departments are responsible for. This usually includes alterations being made to team organization and the management hierarchy.
- Remedial change: This type of change takes place when a company identifies an issue and needs to address it. Remedial change is reactionary because it necessitates immediate action as a result of a problem, like losing a key employee or addressing an issue with a client or customer.
How to create and manage change within an organization
Here are some tips and steps for effectively implementing and managing organizational change:
1. Define the goals
Before you can decide the steps you need to take to create change within your company, you need to determine what you hope to accomplish for the organization. Pinpoint what needs to change and why this change is necessary. After you have defined the change, make sure that it aligns with the overall objectives for the business and its performance goals.
2. Determine the effects
The organizational change will inevitably affect employees at various levels and departments. Outline the effect on each department and track it through the organizational structure to a single employee. By considering the impacts that this change will have on every level, you can identify where support and training will be needed the most and mitigate any issues that may arise.
3. Create a strategy for communication
Because of the previous step, you should have an idea of who will be most affected by the change within your organization. These are the individuals who you need to communicate the change to the most. Decide the most effective way to communicate this change to the group or individual in a way that will convince them of the necessity and positive results of the actions being taken. In your communication strategy, include:
- A timeline when the change will be communicated to specific groups or individuals
- Key messages about the change
- The mediums and communication channels you plan to use
4. Provide training
In order for your staff to accept the change and prepare for it, you need to inform them that training is available to ease the transition. Whether structured or informal, develop or coordinate effective training that goes over the skills and behaviors that are necessary to operate efficiently. This training can take the form of:
- On-the-job coaching
- In-person training sessions
- Online modules
- A blended approach that incorporates different methods
5. Develop a support structure
Different types of change require varying methods of support to help employees adjust practically and emotionally as well as build the skills and behaviors to achieve the desired results. Determine who needs support the most and what type is most effective for the specific situation. Some options for support are:
- An open-door policy with management so that employees can ask questions as they come up
- A mentorship to help navigate the change
- Counseling services to ask questions and adopt new job descriptions
6. Measure the process and results
To ensure successful change processes in the future, it’s important that you assess the effectiveness of the change management plan throughout and after the process is completed. This allows you to evaluate whether the goals were achieved, identify any opportunities for continued reinforcement and determine if there are things that can be done differently in the future.
Organizational change FAQs
Here are some answers to frequently asked questions about change within an organization:
What causes change in an organization?
An organization can experience change for a number of reasons, including:
- A company’s existing product is underperforming and being replaced with a new product
- New government officials are elected and new policies are made
- An acquisition or merger takes place
- A company shifts its priorities
- A company implements new administrative and structural strategies
Who is responsible for creating and managing change within an organization?
The individuals or group of individuals who are responsible for initiating and managing organizational change are known as change agents. Change agents can be internal staff members, like employees or managers, or external contractors, like consultants, who are in charge of overseeing the change process.
Why do people resist organizational change?
There are several reasons that employees resist changes in the workplace, such as:
- Employees fear it will result in their role being reduced or eliminated.
- The reason has been insufficiently communicated.
- They fear that they will become less productive or successful.
- They value their current routine and control.
- They feel they lack the skills or ability to effectively transition.
- The timing is less than ideal.
- They need motivation or a reward system to make the change.
- Office politics cause them to resist the leader and/or the plan.
- There is fear of losing their support system.
- A previous experience with change went poorly.
- They feel the need to protect their coworkers.
- There is a lack of trust and support.