Research indicates that 70 percent of organisational change programs are considered to have failed or had mixed results, with studies showing that the impact on employees is reduced productivity and morale.
Although, even with evidence of such poor results, 73 percent of leaders predict change programs will only become more frequent with the pace of technological disruption. In the face of accelerated change, is there more you can do to prepare your team for organisational change?
In doing so, it is vital to be more proactive in preparing people for change in a way that better supports their wellbeing and increases the effectiveness of future change programs.
Here are five strategies to help your team anticipate and more easily adapt to organisational change.
- Raise self-awareness of the impact of change
It begins with giving your team insight into the psychological reorientation or stages that we all move through when faced with organisational change. In other words, helping to develop people’s self-awareness of how we all react differently, and understanding the situations that trigger an emotional response in periods of change.
By starting to develop people’s understanding of change, it increases our ability to make conscious choices in how to respond. The brain’s limbic system, which plays a key role in the processing of emotions, takes milliseconds to register a flight or fight response. According to neuroscience, there is a small window following this where we can consciously look for new ways to view the situation and which can help us adapt more quickly to change.
- Reframe change as a positive force for growth
This involves encouraging people to reconsider the role of organisational change, and by embracing it as a necessary and vital force for organisations to survive. Research estimates that, at the current churn rate, three-quarters of today’s S&P 500 companies will drop off the list and be replaced by 2027 if they don’t evolve their business models.
Looking to the future, success requires a greater number of people to be active participants in the change process, looking for ways to future-proof their skills, as well as playing their part to secure the future of the organisation. This shift comes with deepening your team’s understanding of the forces driving change and offering more ways for them to get involved.
Your team’s ability to embrace organisational change also comes with a deeper connection to the purpose of the organisation. This knowledge gives us the insight to better challenge any resistance we may feel by more easily connecting change with our commitment to the vision for the organisation.
- Embed change in the organisational culture
For your team to better anticipate and adapt to change, it is important to encourage the enabling behaviours. These behaviours include anything from simply asking questions and being more curious, through to challenging the way that things get done in the organisation, or via test and learn initiatives that facilitate change.
This approach requires a culture that encourages a more open exchange of ideas and exposes people to different perspectives. To be successful, this involves investing in professional development through coaching and building a mentoring network that encourages dialogue and the receptivity to reflect on, and consider, more diverse views.
A culture that readily embraces change involves taking a more ambitious approach to talent mobility. It does this by actively seeking ways to redirect people into new and emerging roles by investing in their skills development. To make this happen, leaders need to be willing to make decisions ahead of demonstrating a return, recognising that these moves can act as powerful symbols of what is possible when we embrace change.
- Promote continuous learning to facilitate change
In today’s environment, when the skills needed to compete in the workforce are changing at such a rapid rate, programs need to encourage a growth mindset. This shift comes with educating people on the importance of continuous learning to remain relevant, including people taking charge of their own development. With leaders acting as positive role models by sharing their own development plans, this will encourage others to act.
These development plans begin with people asking for feedback on a more regular basis and consciously seeking out new professional experiences. It is also about providing even more micro-learning programs to target the specific skills needed in the future, with greater emphasis placed on learning goals as part of your team’s development plans.
- Communicate change plans in real-time
The most important role that a leader can play is to engage their team in change as it unfolds. This process happens in real-time, not after decisions have been made, by collaboratively exploring the forces driving change, as well as encouraging volunteers to participate in constructing the future.
This is a shift from seeking compliance to getting people to genuinely participate in constructing change. This approach helps allay people’s fears and overcomes resistance. It is a move to a more open-source approach to implementing change that comes with dialogue.
The leaders who bring emotional self-control, adaptability and a positive outlook to team interactions create environments where people feel safe to take interpersonal risks. This approach recognises that if a team prioritises self-protection, it can be detrimental to facilitating change. Psychological safety is fundamental to the change process by creating an environment that encourages learning, and challenges the way that things get done.
Finally, when faced with change in today’s uncertain world, for all if us, it is about remaining flexible, alert and open to new experiences, wherever they may come from.