Change Management: Fail to plan, plan to fail

Crossroad with stop sign

When a business experiences a severe, unexpected shock with immediate impacts on revenue – like many businesses are experiencing at this very moment – they may quickly switch to firefighting mode, responding and reacting at speed to lessen the impact, however, this approach can be damaging for organisations, HR teams and employees.

Fundamental to any successful change management programme is the planning phase, this continues to apply – and potentially even more so – when time is limited and somewhat unforeseen circumstances are presented, such as experienced due to the current pandemic.

For decision makers, it may appear that redundancy is the only viable route. Yet, while in some cases it can be simply unavoidable, it is always prudent to explore any possible alternatives and not just act in haste, well thought out planning could pay dividends in the future for your business.

As part of the planning phase, assess the skills of your current workforce and explore options such as redeployment, job share, moving to reduced hours or other alternatives that may be suggested as part of the consultation process. By doing this, you may hold on to talent that would have otherwise been lost, and potentially reduce your companies outgoings without reducing the size of your workforce.

It is following the planning phase that senior leaders (typically business leaders or CEO) should bring employees together to set the background to upcoming business change; highlighting what is happening in the marketplace, how the firm is performing against expectation and outlining why the changes are needed. Helping people to understand why change is necessary will make change easier to implement.

It is not advisable to go into detail at this point, however it is important to set the scene at an organisational level if the changes are significant, or at a departmental or individual changes if the changes are on a smaller scale. The purpose is to demonstrate why the change is necessary and should avoid specifics around redundancy – although it may be appropriate to acknowledge that some difficult decisions may lie ahead. Explaining the background in this way is good practice and minimises uncertainty. The opportunity should also be taken to outline next steps.

For further advice and guidance on how to manage change and redundancy, including the importance of communication during change, the redundancy process and employee support options available download a copy of our guide to ‘Supporting your organisation through change and redundancy’ below. 

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