There comes a time in every organization's history when it is motivated to pursue change. This can often result from outside influences, such as increases in competition, changes in consumer preferences or the arrival of new regulations. Internal issues, such as lack of collaboration, unaligned teams or overlap of processes or responsibilities can also serve as a catalyst. Whatever the motivation, it is likely that not everyone will immediately agree on the best new direction, or even the need for change at all.
Fear is a common reaction to the idea of moving on from the status quo and venturing into unknown territory, and can affect professionals at all levels of an organization. Risk is inherent in change, and this can spark both individual and team fears regarding the future.
Individual fears that must be addressed by agents of change largely involve the potential loss of responsibilities, position or status. These individual fears, especially those that concern job and compensation security, must be addressed first, ideally before the changes are even announced. Addressing these fears with a sense of urgency helps show teams that simply because the organization is taking a new direction does not mean that their needs will go ignored. Managers and others in leadership positions must clarify what changes, if any, will affect their teams, and encourage team members to ask questions regarding the process. Answering tough questions candidly and promptly will help reduce employees feelings of anxiety about their roles in the future of the organization.
Common team fears include possible detrimental changes to standards, procedures and communication as a result of the transition. Clear communication from management about the need and purpose of change helps to mitigate uncertainty and avoid potential reductions in morale. What the change initiative is hoping to achieve should be made immediately clear to all team members. Often, taking an "away day" to celebrate past successes, review current challenges and clearly outline the need and strategy for change will help to reduce resistance to change in the future. Team members need to be made to feel that they have a stake in the future of the company, and that change efforts are being pursued with their best interest in mind.
Organizational change is a stressful and challenging period for an organization. However, with clearly defined goals, clear communication and the right insight form leadership, it is possible to address existing issues and emerge with stronger and more effective and goal-aligned teams.
Change management consulting helps organization determine the most effective means of addressing inevitable resistance to change and finding the most efficient route to success.