In recent months, chances are that your workplace has undergone some level of change. Management has been restructured, new policies have been implemented, or employees have been shuffled around to different departments. All three may have happened.
Change in the workplace can be overwhelming and challenging to manage. But don’t worry, you’re not alone. Here is a guide to help you navigate through the changes in your workplace and manage them successfully.
What is organizational change?
Organizational change happens when a company modifies several aspects of its strategy or operations. For example, there may be transformations in business culture and objectives that include the essential new technologies needed to create a better workplace. Also, transformation in a general industry will require an organization to change along with it. Change when keeping up with industry trends can sometimes require more dramatic changes to organizational strategy.
In 2018, Insight Global underwent massive organizational change after a rough 2017 that featured high turnover. Since then, the company has been rooted in making sure the business was constructed around our core values:
- Everyone matters
- We take care of each other
- Leadership is here to serve
- High character and hard work above all else
- Always know where you stand.
How often do you innovate your company? Changes can either take place over time or, if needed, intermittently.
Change can be classified essentially into two categories (according to Harvard Business School):
- Adaptability: when an employee or organization implements new processes to “fine-tune” what is going on within the company, like adding a new page to your website or offering a new service
- Transformational: when an entire organizational philosophy, business structure, or culture changes from the top down
These two types of change can intertwine and happen at the same time, too. We’ll go into more specific examples of organizational change in a later section.
What happens when the workplace doesn’t change?
Businesses that remain stubborn or don’t bend in this way tend to employ stagnated working conditions. But in the right situations, your culture will evolve and accept change. Innovative businesses embrace change.
Think of different modifications your business needs to undergo from various perspectives. Changes are typically implemented to benefit the organization in some manner, for example, by increasing profits.
How do I manage change in the workplace?
When instituting change in the workplace, employee engagement and buy-in is a must. Engaging with employees requires creativity, strong communication skills, and understanding to manage the changing situation. With proper techniques, leaders can inspire loyalty and buy-in to change.
Managerial change can be a potential challenge for HR professionals working in small and medium enterprises. Find key performers with proven experience and a reputation for influencing others in their industry as a starting base for managing change in the workplace.
In the next section, we’ll offer guidance on how influencers in an organization can be the drivers of change, and how employees skeptical of change can reduce stress and anxiety surrounding change.
10 tips for dealing with change in the workplace
While adjusting to change can be challenging, it is essential for companies to maintain a competitive edge in the business world. As a supervisor, it’s crucial to adapt quickly in order to achieve your company’s goals.
Here are 10 tips for managing change in your job or company.
1. Accept change that will happen
No matter how much you wage war against change in your workplace, it will still come at some point. You are not alone in this battle. Many employees are feeling the fear that accompanies change when they know nothing about what is coming next.
The best way to fight against chaos is to create order, with serenity being your guiding principle for creating predictability amid uncertainty. You have to believe that things will be okay even if it isn’t what you had planned. This should come with words of assurance from your managers and leaders within the organization, who communicate why change is happening (more on this in a bit).
2. Look at the bigger picture
Change often happens for a reason. Ask yourself why change is occurring, and it may give you some insight as to how to handle it better or where your focus needs to lie. Ideally this guidance will come from the top level down, but at the very least, team leaders should have a grasp of how the change will affect the business moving forward. That will help the trickle down to team members.
Perhaps there is something bigger going on within the company’s culture that has nothing to do with you personally but will affect every employee. For example, here at Insight Global, it wasn’t one person or team that was causing the high turnover rate we mentioned at the beginning of the article. However, it was more of the organization culture that needed change.
In other instances of change, maybe there are numerous changes happening at once that seem chaotic and out of control, but you have to think if they serve a greater purpose than meets the eye. Communicating clarity on this will help create understanding and buy-in across the company. Being able to detach yourself as an individual from the emotions of change may lead to new opportunities and provide clarity to the bigger picture.
3. Trust you are being taken care of
When things go off track from what you’re used to, it can be difficult not to take it personally as an individual and assume you are being excluded or left out in the cold.
Maybe other employees aren’t receiving communication because there are different communication strategies for each department. Perhaps everyone isn’t receiving communication because certain employees act as “gatekeepers,” hindering communication. (This is a problem.) Sometimes people are purposefully kept in the dark because new processes aren’t finalized. It’s essential to be able to discern whether you are being intentionally left out of communication or if it is indeed by accident. Once you understand that, you can place trust in leaders to inform you when the time is right.
Your leadership should be there to serve you and make sure you are being taken care of. If an employee doesn’t feel like they are being taken care of, they may seek out opportunities outside of your organization. Leaders within the company should have a plan of when employees find out about change, and they should follow through with that plan.
4. Trust your gut instincts
If something feels wrong or “off,” or you have this nagging feeling that there is more going on than what meets the eye, trust yourself and see where it leads you. While sometimes that may lead to an outcome like you changing your role within a company or moving to a different company, at least you know how you feel about the situation, which reduces insecurity or anxiety about the decision.
Your gut will help you take steps towards figuring out what is happening within the company without causing stress or concern from your part.
5. Take action if necessary
If something feels wrong and you need to take immediate action, then do so! If you think that information is being withheld from you or your team, and that it is unprofessional or unethical, tell the person responsible how you feel.
Don’t attack the the person and make it about you as an individual (avoid a statement like “I deserve to know”), but state your case as to why communication should be kept open between co-workers and managers at all times (or as much as possible).
The more difficult route involves speaking with a higher-up such as your boss or even your CEO. Show them exactly why keeping employees in the dark causes anxiety and stress, which is bad for business (and profits)!
6. Get clear on whether change is for the better
Before you fight against change, make sure it’s worth your time and energy. If the only thing that changes is a few extra responsibilities being passed around across to an entire team, or responsibilities are being changed among the team with good reason, then it may be a good idea to embrace this change.
As a manager or supervisor, it’s important to recognize who on your team adapts (and even looks for) change and who thrives with more consistency. There’s a balancing act on making sure both personality types are taken into account when organizational change occurs.
7. Work together as a team
It can take a lot of time and energy fighting against change in the workplace that isn’t going away as an individual. Instead, try to work together with your team–whether that be the couple of people in your department or as the whole company–to successfully implement any change in the workplace.
One of Insight Global’s core values is “we take care of each other.” That especially rings true when the company undergoes any change. You can’t leave any employee behind.
8. Treat people equally despite the changes
When dealing with change, many people feel the need to treat certain individuals with kid gloves while others are held accountable for their actions. In order to prevent this from happening, make sure everyone is treated equally before, during, and after change in the workplace.
Suppose there is a feeling that one person is being favored over another because of their position. In that case, it only adds fuel to the fire, causing resentment and more anxiety throughout the office. This can lead to a toxic environment that affects employees emotionally and harms efficiency and productivity.
Don’t play favorites when it comes to employees because everyone is affected by these changes, which means you have to treat everyone fairly.
9. Communicate, communicate, communicate
Change can be very disruptive if not handled correctly, and it’s only natural for people to feel this way, especially if they become comfortable with their work environment and daily routine/assignments. You may have certain employees who don’t want change implemented.
This is where communication becomes crucial, because you have to make everyone realize that their concerns are valid. However, let them know how this will affect the business and their professional growth in a positive way. If the employee expresses concerns about how this will affect their role, reassure them they will have all the resources they need to make sure they can adapt to change and feel comfortable with it.
If there’s any hope of getting the team on board with new procedures and protocols, then you’ll have to present your case clearly, concisely, and with purpose.
10. Set goals and remain motivated
No matter what happens with change, always set goals and remain motivated in your own personal purpose and the company’s purpose. Even though some people feel like they’re no longer working exactly the same as they used to, you still have to focus on what should be rather than what has changed or is changing.
“Don’t just say ‘I want to grow.’ Define success,” Insight Global CEO Bert Bean said. “Actually write out what growth for you looks like. Lay it over a timeline with real dates. Sit down and share it with someone. It can be your leader or it can be a close peer. Just make sure it’s someone who cares enough to hold you accountable to making good on your plan.”
Even though change is inevitable, it doesn’t have to be disruptive. The key is being flexible and open-minded when dealing with change. These goals can help you make sure you, your team, and the company are all still working toward something when change comes, and you all can keep each other accountable.
What kind of changes happen in the workplace?
The COVID-19 pandemic caused many of the changes seen today, and what appeared to be temporary now might be permanent. These include things like working remotely, more generous paid time off, better work-life balance (meaning less time at work), and introducing various process that keep in mind time and space workers spend around each other.
You need to stay at the forefront of constant change to keep competition strong and grow the company. Most changes are destined for different shelf lives, but change in the workplace often come on very quickly.
Outside of the pandemic, change in the workplace can include:
- New management or owners
- Different process or platforms to accomplish and complete tasks
- New roles within a team or organization meant to take on responsibilities other team members used to handle
- Addition or subtraction of team meetings, perks, or benefits
These are just a few types of changes, but they types that occur across all industries.
Why is managing change important?
The answer to why managing change is important comes down to why organizational leaders implement change in the first place: they want employees to be productive and successful. However, leaders should want their workforce to be happy and satisfied while being productive and successful, too!
Leaders generally don’t implement change unless it’s in the company’s best interest, so if you feel angry or upset about a new policy being implemented or restructuring within your unit, try to remember why this is happening.
What the workplace looks like in the future after implementing change is difficult for all parties involved because there’s always room for things to go wrong. If you’re interested in learning more about how changes come to fruition successfully (rather than destructively), you can:
- Consult with an organizational development specialist
- Participate in co-worker training sessions on change management
- Use personal coaching or counseling to sort through what you want to accomplish or how to manage your feelings during a period of change
The key to an effective change management process is making sure everyone involved has the information they need to make good decisions moving forward. So be proactive and ask questions.
Why is the workplace changing?
Change in the workplace happens across all industries and job types. However, there are some overarching terms used to describe the types of change in the workplace that happen, followed by some examples of change that have happened here at Insight Global:
- Reinforced change: when an organization improves its performance by reinforcing or strengthening what already exists. (Ex. IG developed a new sales framework to enhance the way we conduct ours sales operations.)
- Restructured change: when an organization enhances its effectiveness through a structural reorganization. (Ex. We realigned our IT department under one roof rather than having separate IT departments within different divisions.)
- Reorientation change: occurs when an organization adapts to stay competitive and make a sustainable future possible. (Ex. IG created new consulting divisions like Diversity, Equity & Inclusion and Compass (culture consulting) to keep up with business needing to adjust their diversity and cultural efforts.)
- Remedial change: when an existing framework or framework fails to adapt, causing problems. (Ex. We mentioned the retention problem we had earlier. The change that happened included overhauling IG’s entire framework of hiring, training, and, most importantly, how we built and maintain our culture.)
Remember: these types of changes can be smaller and easier to implement, or they can be totally transformational and take a long time to happen.
Organizational change can be challenging to manage, but it doesn’t have to aleinate people within the company. Remember the 10 tips we talked about before, and you’ll be able to deal with the changes at work more efficiently.
The key to managing change is being proactive. This can be accomplished through a few simple steps, which we have outlined throughout this blog.
Take the time to understand why change may be happening to know how best to prepare your team members for the impending changes. Next, work with management or HR to plan out who will be impacted by this change and when they should find out about it!
You should also communicate early and often with your staff as much as possible before any disruptions happen so you can answer questions and alleviate fears of uncertainty.
Finally, start thinking creatively about how this new challenge might bring some positive benefits along with it!
Change brings opportunity, so check out the Insight Global hiring page when you’re ready to hire, and we’ll instantly connect you with top talent.