How To Manage Organisational Change

How To Manage Organisational Change

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How To Manage Organisational Change

By Mark Wager

“The only thing that is constant is change” – Heraclitus

In order for a company to succeed it needs to be willing to change what it is doing now in order to deliver what it needs in the future. Evolution is the key to any successful organisation. The change is sometimes a cultural change in which values, attitudes and behaviours need to change or more commonly, especially in tough financial times, restructuring is required. This involves reporting lines and positions being revaluated and changed. An understanding that what worked yesterday may not work tomorrow is essential for any ambitious organisation. Change needs to occur and without a doubt, the issue is how a leader manages the change process. The “how” the change occurs is almost as important as the “why” and if managed incorrectly you can undo the level of employee engagement you have which negates any benefit that will come from a new organisational structure.

What is the danger?

An organisational change process hits right at the heart of the factors that positively influence employee engagement significance and empowerment. Employees are connected to an organisation when they feel valued enough to feel a satisfactory level of significance in their role and they feel empowered enough to perform their role at a high level. During a change process it’s common for people to feel undervalued and powerless. If not addressed correctly this can disengage people which results in less productivity.

Where is the danger?

Change processes often fail before they begin due to poor communication which results in low engagement in two key areas the people managers and the people influencers. The people managers are obviously the middle to low level managers in the organisation who have responsibility for people, they are your formal influencers. The majority of your communication to your ground level staff will come via these people. If this layer is not engaged then the message will be distorted and unlikely to succeed. An often overlooked important area is the role of the people influencers. These are the employees who do not have managerial positions but have the ability to influence those around them. These people informally influence large groups of employees due to their level of knowledge which comes from their length of service and/or their technical expertise or relationships. Regardless of who they are, these are the people that organisations need on their side in order to successfully implement change.

How to avoid the danger

A successful change process, one in which change is not only implemented but is lasting without any loss of employee engagement, occurs when two important factors are established, urgency and hope. When people consider change they subconsciously consider two questions. Firstly, what's the reason to change and secondly what's the reasons to try. In order to succeed people need a level of urgency to change and a level of hope in order to try.

Instil the urgency

Complacency is the enemy of change. I've seen it happen when an organisation is so concerned about worrying staff that they underplay the desperate need for change to such a degree that complacency sets in. If your back is against the wall then make sure people are aware of this. Create in them a strong sense of urgency and ensure they are on your side. You will often find that the bigger the challenge the bigger the enthusiasm that can be generated as long as you have the important component of hope.

Install hope

People need to know why the change will lead to success both on a high-level concept and the ground level detail. Studies have shown that communication to groups is more effective when starting with the conceptual explanation first and then leading into the detail. A good tip is to include an example of how the new way of working impacts people both customers and staff. Ensure your vision gives people a reason to believe.

Evolving an organisation is vital to compete in an ever changing world. In order to change you need to be aware of the dangers that will be present. Establish your communication and focus on your influencers both formal and informal. Give your people a realistic honest sense of the urgency for the change and the hope that the future state you desire is not only better than today but also a realistic possibility.

"Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future." - John F Kennedy

About the Author

Mark Wager is the leader that others leaders go to when they want advice. A Leadership Coach with 25 years leadership experience gathered across a variety of industries both in the United Kingdom and here in New Zealand. Mark specialises in coaching leaders to the next level. To contact Mark use the enquiry form below.

Posted: Monday 18 August 2014


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