Organisational Change Starts with the Individual – Part 1
The working environment has changed quite significantly over the last 50 years, and with the development and introduction of new technologies will continue to change even further. Change is the only constant in the working environment yet many organisations do not invest in properly understanding and developing strategies to manage the impact of change. For this reason many business transformations that look good on paper; provide cost savings, promote efficiency or bring visibility into key organisational data and reporting, often fail because organisational change relies on individual change. Without addressing the impact on individuals and mitigating the risk of their rejection an organisation is making a critical error in planning for a successful outcome.
To understand the impact of change on the individual I will discuss how a popular model; the Kubler-Ross Change Model can be applied to help businesses begin to understand the process of change that an individual will go through. Part 1 will discuss phases 1 and 2 and the strategies an organisation can implement to successfully navigate individuals through the beginning of organisational change.
‘There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things’ Niccolo Machiavelli
Managing Stages 1 & 2 of the Individual Change Process
When change occurs the individual will experience a sense of shock at the perceived change and may consciously or sub-consciously choose to ignore the impact this will have. Once this denial barrier breaks down and the individual is confronted with the requirement to change, their adversity to change manifests as frustration and can lead to overall low mood and motivation or anxiety within the workplace. At this early stage it is critical for the organisation to provide as much open communication and information about how the change will impact processes and business as possible. It would also be wise to engage with stakeholders who will be impacted and ensure they are not feeling ‘left in the dark’ and instead feel they have some input and control in the situation. This early communication creates alignment, the individual is then openly engaged in the process of change and encouraged to participate in driving their own acceptance.
Providing communication around the benefits and gaining buy-in from stakeholders (particularly management) will help to ensure participants anxieties are replaced with motivation and ownership to assist in driving the change which will only assist in moving the individuals through their change process.