How HR can create the right environment for organisational change

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Creating the right environment for organisational change

Organisational change is a certainty of modern business and can occur for a number of reasons. While it can be unsettling and concerning for the individuals involved, when managed in the right way it can, in some cases, create positive opportunities.

Successful businesses understand that the key to an effective change programme means creating the right environment for change to occur. In fact, managing organisational change is a core competency that businesses must master in order to thrive now and in the future, particularly as they navigate the challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic.

This begins with HR departments who carry the responsibility of ensuring that both managers and their teams are as prepared as they can be for the impacts of the changes and that a positive outcome is reached which benefits all involved.

So, how can HR help create the right environment for organisational change?

Educate your leaders

Any company-wide changes must be delivered from the top down which means leaders and managers must be involved at the earliest opportunity in the change process, so they fully understand the changes and the reasoning behind them, in order to be able to convey this accurately to their teams.

Before any information is communicated to team members, leaders must be confident that they understand the changes themselves and have a process in place for passing on the message accurately and clearly.

HR should be involved from this early stage – helping to agree a ‘script’ in advance to avoid badly worded or incorrect details being given to employees which could cause confusion or lead to fear and uncertainty which is liable to spread amongst staff.

By working with leaders from the outset, HR can really help to streamline and ease the change process by giving them the confidence and skills to manage the changes effectively, while ensuring the individuals feel safe and secure every step of the way.

Communicate organisational change clearly

Individuals are naturally inclined to be resistant to change through fear of the unknown and the potential implications this creates. It is vital then that organisational change is explained in a clear and compassionate way with no possibility for confusion or misunderstanding.

A transparent and honest approach to organisational change from senior staff helps to create a feeling of trust, engenders loyalty and encourages buy-in from the team as employees feel valued and cared for in a potentially challenging situation.

A successful organisational change process is one which opens up the lines of communication between the individual and their managers – giving team members the opportunity to ask questions, give feedback and express their concerns. In turn, the leaders have a responsibility to ensure that these queries are answered in a satisfactory manner and any fears alleviated.

This open and personal approach facilitates a smooth and seamless pathway to change where all parties are committed to creating a positive and beneficial outcome for everyone, whether at an individual, team or organisational level.

Arm leaders with the skills to lead organisational change

Nobody likes to be the bearer of bad news but in some circumstances such as occasions of necessary organisational change this is unavoidable and there are methods that can be used to soften the blow and minimise disruption to the recipients of the news.

It is crucial that leaders possess the skillset required to deliver important information in a way that is considerate and respectful and must be a patient and understanding ear when receiving feedback which may be negative to the updates.

HR must work with managers to improve these skills to ensure the change process goes as smoothly as possible with the minimum possible disruption to employees throughout the tricky period of transition.

Mastering these tools can be the difference between a successful and positive change process which leads to beneficial solutions for all parties and a difficult one resulting in isolation and bad feeling on the part of the employee with knock-on effects for the organisation through bad press resulting in reduced employee attraction and retention.

Build employee resilience   

From the outset, building resilience throughout your workforce can help enable individuals to better adapt to organisational change when it arises – which it is bound to in the ever-evolving economy. HR leaders can be at the forefront of this – at INTOO we offer resilience coaching to assist forward-thinking businesses to arm their employees with the ability to better manage or cope with inevitable change.

Resilient teams are more adaptable, more able to take control of negative situations when they present themselves and can more easily bounce back in the face of stressful or unpleasant events. They are also more likely to focus on the positive rather than the negative in the face of organisational change.

These are all incredibly desirable qualities in an employee and more important than ever in the increasingly uncertain and challenging business landscape. By embedding good practices to help elevate resilience in your teams your organisation will reap the business benefits.

Investing in resilience coaching can improve an organisation’s chances of attracting and retaining top talent due an increased focus on employee wellbeing and the value placed on workplace support and development opportunities.

Change for good

Humans are hard-wired to fear change – it creates uncertainty, disrupts the status quo and puts us distinctly out of our comfort zone – but change doesn’t have to be bad.

In some cases, organisational change can be a positive opportunity – it helps to prevent stagnation, boosts innovation and gives individuals the chance to shine in a new role or to look at things in a different way which can have beneficial impacts on productivity and engagement.

However, managing change in an organisation must be done well – in a way which limits the disruptive and challenging elements and instead focuses on the future benefits.

HR have a crucial role to play in this – by equipping managers with core skills to effectively manage organisational change, building resilience amongst the workforce to adapt and emerge through a period of change stronger than ever and to orchestrate an outcome which ensures the smoothest possible transition period while change is occurring.