Organizational change is essential for companies that want to evolve and remain competitive, but organizational change can also be incredibly disruptive without a strategy to guide the transformation initiatives. The most effective change management strategies are those that focus on the human behavior element. Why? Because employees are often the ones most affected by an organizational change, and because their decision to become adopters, hold-outs, or disrupters of change can have a tremendous impact on the short- and long-term success of a business improvement project.
Here are five effective change management strategies that deal with the human element of organizational change.
1. Propose Incentives
Assuming employees will follow their own self-interests, the first change management strategy is to offer incentives that will encourage people to accept and ultimately engage with the new direction of the company.
Employee recognition programs and rewards tailored to specific actions and company values provide the “carrot” some workers need to buy into change. Incentives also help reinforce the behaviors and actions upper management is looking for in this time of upheaval. Lastly, this positive model of change management shows that the leadership appreciates their employees during a difficult time of transition.
2. Redefine Cultural Values
Another way to drive employee buy-in is to redefine organizational culture values. This change management strategy is based on the underlying assumption that people, as social beings, want to “fit in” and “go along” with cultural norms and values.
Establishing a culture of continuous improvement is one way to change the hearts and minds of employees asked to change the way they work. In this example, employees may be more receptive to new ways of working (and new ways of thinking about work) if they have already bought into the idea of continuous improvement and the upheaval that comes with change.
3. Exercise Authority
Depending on how serious the need for change is, an organization may choose to exercise its authority to decrease employee opposition and get workers to adhere to new standards, processes, and cultural norms as quickly as possible.
If the threat is grave enough that imminent change is necessary for survival, organizations might simply not have the time to invest in incentive programs or culture change initiatives. The coercive strategy can be the fastest way to implement change — “my way or the highway” — but it can also breed resentment and opposition among some employees that may become problematic in the future.
4. Shift the Burden of Change
Although people are often quick to oppose change, especially change they view as undesirable or disruptive, they are often even quicker to adapt to new environments. Organizations can take advantage of this adaptability by creating a new structure — complete with new processes, workflows, and values — and gradually transfer employees from the old one.
This strategy is best suited for situations involving radical, transformative organizational change. Instead of burdening upper management with enticing or coercing employees to accept specific change initiatives, the burden of change is shifted to the workers who gradually (or all at once) find themselves in the confines of a new organization. Once there, employees are faced with the prospect of adapting to new circumstances or being left behind to “die on the vine” with the old organization.
5. Recruit Champions of Change
Radical change is often met with a high degree of resistance, but the odds of success can be improved if the voices championing change belong to workers and not solely upper management. Recruiting frontline employees to share the need for change (and the benefits) with their peers can speed up worker buy-in, lower the degree of resistance, and serve as a mechanism for collecting feedback and disseminating information regarding the planned change initiatives.
If you’ve identified the need for change within your organization, Business Enterprise Mapping can help you identify improvement opportunities that lie buried in broken processes. We can also show you how business process mapping lowers the degree of resistance to change and helps lay the foundation for radical transformation. Contact us online or call 480-515-9001 to speak with one of our business process improvement professionals.
Change Management Success
Did you find this article useful? If so, consider downloading our Major Change Management Plan Template, which will help you ask the right questions to navigate the activities necessary to plan and implement successful change that creates value for your employer.