Winning with OCM

Winning with Organizational Change Management

Organizational change management (OCM) is essentially all about how organizations should manage big changes, of which for most companies these days there’ll be many.

Thanks in large to the digital age, change is becoming far more frequent as companies try to keep up with emerging tech and the ever-growing competition that surrounds them in their respective market(s). Importantly, all these changes to technology, business operations, and even products/services will have an impact on people and involve some element of people-related change.

According to McKinsey & Company research, “70% of change programs fail to achieve their goals, largely due to employee resistance and lack of management support.” This might be a 2015 statistic but I still find it hard to argue with in 2019. So, if you don’t want your organization to contribute to this unfortunate statistic, then please read on for five tips that will help your company manage change – including people change – effectively.

1) Make change part of your culture

It’s highly unlikely that your organization is going to go through one or two changes and then remain the same forevermore. Actually, it’s not unlikely, it’s impossible. If your business isn’t changing, then it means that it’s not responding to the world around it and so it’s more likely to fail.

A thriving company is one that implements change regularly, and the best companies succeed with these changes because their staff understands it’s necessary and worthwhile.

A thriving company is one that implements change regularly, and the best companies succeed with these changes because their staff understands it’s necessary and worthwhile. - @Joe_the_IT_Guy #business Click To Tweet

Making change part of your company culture is the only way to ensure that you don’t face the same struggles every time you make a big organizational change – for instance, fear, resistance (to the change), and even resigning employees. And bringing change into your organization’s culture means that your employees not only expect change, but they embrace it. They understand that change can mean growth and offers a better way of working (or at least enablement that allows the organization to try new ways of working).

Change affects your people, so if they’re not on board you’re going to struggle. When change becomes something that your organization “just does” then that employee resistance McKinsey highlighted is significantly reduced.

2) Be clear in your communications

Clarity and communication are key to any organizational change that you wish to implement.

It often isn’t actually change that people fear, it’s the unknown. We’re a strange bunch us humans (and non humans) and we’d often rather remain in the status quo (even if we’re not happy) than change something because we don’t know what things will look like “on the other side.” You can reduce this fear by clearly explaining why the change is happening, what the change will look like, and how people will be affected.

In clear communication, you’ll need to identify which groups of people are going to be affected and ensure that your communications are tailored to each group. If you attempt a blanket comms to cover all areas, then your message is going to be lost on some people. And it’s so, so important that everybody involved knows what to expect (from any change).

Here @Joe_the_IT_guy shares five tips that will help your company manage change – including people change – effectively. #business #leadership Click To Tweet

If training is required, then you’ll need to let staff know how this will work and what’s expected of them. Support channels should also be communicated, and support should be available before, during, and after the change has been implemented. Plus, if the support offered is going to change throughout the process, then this will need to be made clear too.

It’s also important to realize that not all changes are positive, so some will be easier to put into practice than others. If you do have to roll out a negative change, then don’t try to disguise it as a positive one. Many organizations have failed with change because they pretended that a negative change is actually going to be good for its people. But here’s the thing – firstly, your staff aren’t stupid, and they won’t buy it, you’ll just make them angry. And secondly, it’s a lie, and if you start lying to your own staff, then you’re on a slippery slope and I can promise you they won’t hang around if they have alternative employment opportunities.

Finally, the worst thing an organization can do when implementing change is to leave their people in the dark about what’s to be expected, how it will be executed, or why it’s taking place.

3) Measure change performance from a variety of perspectives

When your organization undertakes change it’s essential to have a mechanism in place for measuring the effects of the change over the following weeks and months in addition to measuring the change during implementation. Why? Because successful OCM doesn’t end when the change is complete but continues to evaluate how well everything is going post change.

Successful Organizational Change Management doesn’t end when the change is complete but continues to evaluate how well everything is going post change - @Joe_the_IT_Guy #business Click To Tweet

You’ll want your change measurements to include data such as:

  • How well staff are performing
  • How well the organization is performing
  • How the change is progressing (including if it’s moving away from its intended path)
  • The effectiveness of communications, training, and support
  • The return on investment (ROI) – which doesn’t need to be financial.

Of course, the measurement of change could be a blog post on its own, but the above examples hopefully give you an idea of just how vast your measurements will need to be. Hey, I never said this OCM stuff was going to be a walk in the park now, did I?

Learn about SysAid Change Management

4) Wait for your people if you want them to really accept change

Patience. You’re going to need it and you’re going to need it by the bucketload.

Whatever the change may be, and however well you communicate and support it, it’s likely that there’ll be some level of resistance in the beginning and maybe even throughout the process until the benefits can be seen and/or people are used to this new way of working.

Understand that your staff members are human and that you should only expect so much from them. So be patient, be understanding, and they’ll come around. Ultimately, without motivated people an organization is nothing. When people have concerns, answer them. When they’re not happy, show them that you want to understand why. When they’re fearful of what’s to come, explain to them why it’s necessary and exactly what it means.

Do all of this and you’ll be on the road to gaining happier, more-loyal staff who come to embrace and support organizational change.

5) Beware of bad eggs

This is also one of my key breakfast rules. Maybe that was TMI?

When all is said and done there is, of course, a chance that you’ll be faced with someone who doesn’t want to get on board. Even if the change is incredibly beneficial to staff, even if you’ve communicated well, trained people and supported them throughout. Sometimes there’s a “bad egg” in the team and there’s nothing you can do about it.

Should you face this situation you’re going to have to accept that things are going to get uncomfortable for a while. You’ll need to sit down with this bad egg and give it to them straight – ask them why they aren’t performing, ask them why they’re unhappy and, if the answers they give you aren’t helpful, then tell them it might be time to consider other options. There’s only so much that can be done and if you’re dealing with a bad egg it’s quite possible that it’s a battle you aren’t going to win. I’m not yolking… (sorry I couldn’t resist).

The problem with such bad eggs is that they spread negativity around everybody else and if you don’t tackle it quickly and quietly it can poison other staff members who were actually on board with the change.

Making change part of your company culture is the only way to ensure that you don’t face the same struggles every time you make a big organizational change – for instance, fear, resistance (to the change), and even resigning employees. -… Click To Tweet

Be fair, be understanding, be kind, but if that behavior isn’t being reciprocated don’t be worried about bringing the issue to the surface and facing it head-on. As much as OCM is about looking after your people, you’ll need them to meet you half-way too.

If you’d like to know more about organizational change management, please take a look at my handy A-Z guide.

What other tips would you offer to organizations that are looking to improve their OCM capabilities? Please let me know in the comments.


Posted by Joe the IT Guy

Joe the IT Guy
Joe the IT Guy

Native New Yorker. Loves everything IT-related (and hugs). Passionate blogger and Twitter addict. Oh...and resident IT Guy at SysAid Technologies (almost forgot the day job!).


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