Contributed Column

An Entrepreneur’s Perspective

by Christopher Loso

Best practices for effective organization change-management (OCM)

Most organizations today are in a constant state of flux as they respond to the fast-moving business environment, process improvements, and technological advancement. To remain relevant, organizations must evolve and adapt to the changing climate. When your organization undertakes initiatives to improve performance, respond to opportunities, or address key issues, be prepared for changes to processes, job roles, organizational structures, and technology.

Employee work is ultimately where change happens. Organizational changes — whether big or small — are disruptive to the workforce. If employees are unsuccessful in their personal transitions — either not supporting or not learning a new way of working — the change initiative will likely fail. Many organizations tend to be ineffective at executing organizational change. Studies report that 70 percent of change initiatives fail primarily because employees don’t embrace such efforts. With a proper change strategy, employees will be more apt to embrace and adopt the changes required to deliver results.

Best Practices

Managing change takes planning, and must take into account every aspect of the organization — from leadership to part-time staff. Below are key strategies to help you implement a successful OCM initiative within your organization:

1. Ensure leadership support. Leadership must lead the charge for change to be successful. Leadership sets the direction of the effort, communicates progress, and addresses employee concerns. If leadership is not visibly supporting the effort, your employees will not support it.

2. Clearly define the change. It is not enough to just tell your employees that change is coming; you need to set concrete goals that can be measured. You’ll not only be able to measure your progress, you’ll also give your employees something solid to work toward.

3. Determine impacts and those affected. Identify the impacts of the change at all organizational levels. This information helps you devise a plan of action to help employees through the transition.

4. Develop a communication strategy. A strong communication strategy includes a list of stakeholders, who should be informed; the most effective ways to get to them; what to communicate to them; a communication schedule; and key messages.

5. Encourage feedback. Look for employee feedback — right from the start of the project — and do it constantly. Consider leveraging surveys, team meetings, and organization-wide emails. You can use the feedback to adjust your change strategies.

6. Provide effective training. Let your employees know they will receive training to learn the skills and knowledge required to operate efficiently as the change is rolled out. Training could include instruction online, or a blended learning approach incorporating face-to-face training sessions and on-the-job coaching and mentoring.

7. Consider piloting change. Consider introducing the change into only one section of the organization to start, which will act as the “pilot group.” This allows you to determine the difference in productivity and morale and whether the change has potential for success across the entire organization

8. Recognize employees and celebrate successes. Recognize employees who are aiding the change. Celebrate specific actions and organizational values so other employees know what type of behavior is desired to achieve success. This shows your appreciation and acknowledgement of your employees during this difficult time. Also celebrate the success of your change efforts at select milestones to show progress.

9. Measure outcomes. Throughout the change initiative, measure the business impact of the changes to determine the efforts’ effectiveness. Document any lessons learned, as well.

Organizational change can undoubtedly be stressful for all employees, from the top down. Thus, a proper OCM strategy is helpful to maintain employee morale through clear goal-setting, communication, feedback, employee recognition, and support. •

Christopher Loso is vice president of Loso’s Professional Janitorial Services, Inc. in South Burlington, www.lososjanitorial.com, and former organizational change management executive at Booz Allen Hamilton and Deloitte Consulting.

Index of Contributed Columns

For information on submitting a contributed column see here.