Organizational change is a continuous trial and error process. The most important element in this is understanding the emotional impact on people.
The world is changing.
One of the main features of the current era is that the changes are occurring at an increasingly rapid rate. Under the influence of technology, social, environment, government and customer behavior, companies are forced to continuously change their strategy and the structure of their organization. For employees, this means that their position, performance and responsibilities are constantly under discussion. For most people, this creates so much uncertainty that the level of resistance increases.
And not only does the speed of change increase, but the way in which change is implemented also changes from ‘continuous change’ to transformations. In the latter case, many changes are enforced externally, take place in a short period of time, but also have a higher risk when it comes to acceptance. These types of changes are often implemented by external agencies at organizations.
Cycle of change.
When an organization makes a change it has to take into account the emotions that this entails. The condition for this is that the change is based on good factual research and that there is sufficient support from stakeholders in advance.
Optimism: At this stage, the need for change is accepted. People are often aware of the shortcomings of the organization based on internal or external research. However, people do not realize what the change means on an individual or team level.
Pessimism: The project or change has started. Soon enough, the bodies come out of the closet, which have a strong demotivating effect due to their number and problems. Immediate solutions are not available, which leads to a rapid loss of confidence and overview.
Hopeful: Solutions are now being found for various problems. The stress on a number of important issues has decreased due to the systematic approach. Data is becoming increasingly reliable and can be used concretely as control information.
Trust: The overview returns. Some major obstacles have been overcome. There is light at the end of the tunnel. Changes physically visible and tangible. People are becoming aware of the benefits.
Satisfaction: Although the end result is different than predicted, it still meets expectations in terms of time, money and realized improvement. Much fear turned out to be unfounded.
Three elements are very important when going through the cycle of change.
Leadership: Change must be propagated by the management of the organization. They are just as much part of the cycle of change. Involvement and presence within the organization throughout the process is essential. It is precisely during the Pessimism phase that the leader stands out and takes the lead where necessary.
Facts: Provide a good foundation for research on which the change is based. Let the facts speak for themselves. Show leadership if there is a deviation and accept it. Rigid adherence to schedules overtaken by reality is a prelude to total failure of change.
Emotion: Change is an inevitable fact. So are the accompanying emotions. Not only with employees, but also with management and executives. Be aware of this. Change is an iterative process.
Type of responses
Depending on the individual, his position and the phase in which the change is, one as a director is confronted with different forms of change.
Denial: Most common at the beginning of the process. The individual hopes it will blow over if it is not his problem. Often this individual shows an excessive tendency to rationalize the problem or react indifferently. In this situation, make sure that your business case is well-founded. Be open to the views of the individual. Clearly indicate what changes and what does not. Also make it clear that the process is continuing and that for all involved, cooperation is the best solution. Don’t deny it’s going to be difficult. Every change hurts.
Anger: The first problems arise and the individual takes the “see you” attitude. Tamper attempts and withdrawal from the team. In these cases, ensure that emotion and facts are separated. Avoid a blaming game discussion. Allow individual to cool down. Show commitment and understanding but make sure the team is not ‘infected’.
Negotiator: The most cunning because the individual pretends to embrace change but is actually trying to block it through the back door. Focus on short-term problems, for example make a list of these and deal with them step by step. Give the individual a clear role in this process. Allow the individual to review and resolve their own key points