“Organizational effectiveness can be measured in the way they manage the Change”
Change is necessary but a very painful process for any organization. Any kind of change be it change in direction, policies, processes, organization structure, operations etc. has a wide impact on all the people directly or indirectly associated with this change. This could be you suppliers, customers or your own employees. That is why managing the change very diligently and effectively is as important as the change itself. Change not managed properly will create a lot of dissatisfaction and negativity in the organization. Changes are always disruptive and poorly managed changes can erode the trust in the leadership and the organization itself. Larger change could be a top management prerogative but not understanding the impact of the change will create unwillingness to accept the change resulting in disengaged employees.
Apart from the impact on the people associated with the change, every change involves a lot of efforts and resources to implement. So another aspect that needs to be assessed is the ROI (Return on Investment) of the implementing the change. Take an example of substantial organization change, there are large number of senior people involved in many discussions and strategy meetings to define what needs to be done. This involves significant amount of travelling, spending time in meeting, preparing documents and training for change and deploy people to carry out the changes. Mostly this cost is not looked into properly when change is being implemented or ROI of the change is calculated.
Another factor that is often not considered while calculating the ROI of a change is the loss of productivity that happens while the changes are being made. With disruption in work, people moving around, processes being changed or new policies being implemented a lot of productive man hours are invested in the change process. Not knowing these will not provide a good picture of the overall ROI of the change and perceived benefits.
Let’s look into some of the factors that undermine the effectiveness of an organizational change:
· Not defining the change and its intent properly. Understand and define the intent of the change. This needs to be detailed in terms of why change is being made and what is the changed picture. Intent of the change is to be understood very well by everyone involved in the change or impacted by the change. Everyone should be able to see the future picture and be able to connect to it.
· Not assessing the impact of the change in depth. If the impact of the change is not assessed properly, more often than not change will fail and create more disruption than the benefits. This could generate a lot of negativity and mistrust in the organization. Assessment of impact should include impact to employees, what is it that they need to change, how difficult would it be for them to make this change, how does the change impacts the growth of employees and what benefits they get out of supporting these changes. Also need to assess the impact on the business partners including internal and external stakeholders.
· Not seeking inputs from the right stakeholders. It may not be possible for an organization to include all the impacted people in change related discussions but efforts should be made to seek as much input as possible from all corners. Not having this understanding will only adversely impact the implementation and execution of the change.
· Maintaining too much secrecy. Often for some unknown reasons organizations like to maintain a lot of secrecy around changes being implemented. Much before the changes are to be implemented employees somehow know that something is coming and they might be impacted in some or the other way. It may be required to maintain some secrecy to avoid too much of churn or speculations but if this goes on for too long it creates an environment of uncertainty and suspicion.
· Not communicating properly. Communication is the key in ensuring the effective and smooth implementation of the change. Assuming that sending multiple emails or organizing sessions is enough in terms of communication may be a big mistake. What needs to be made clear through the communication is the intent behind the change and how it intends to benefit the organization and its employees. Trying to communicate a negative change in garb of something wonderful may be seen by employees very quickly and will not be received well at all. If the change is being implement to correct some mistake or failure that should be called out without wrapping it around anything else. Accepting mistake and calling it out is a sure way to gain employees confidence and support. Communication efforts should ensure that employees get aligned with the changes and internalize the same.
· Taking too long. It is always advisable to take time to assess the changes before implementing them but taking too long in the discussions and not bringing out the details will further create apprehension and uncertainty among employees. This definitely calls for a better alignment among the top management, if they are not sure or keep dwelling upon the decisions for a very long time they will only help generate fear.
· Making changes for the sake of it. It is often observed that as soon as a new leader comes into the organization he or she starts to make changes. Intent probably would be to make the things better but changing the organization structure may not be the way to go all the time. Employees are not able to connect to these kind of changes all the time and do not understand the intent behind the change. This could be beneficial for the senior leadership but will be very disruptive for the employees in the organization. So not all changes can be considered good.
· Not calculating the real cost. Efforts are made to calculate the ROI of the change but most of them only include charges paid to external consultants, cost of tools required and current cost of operations. Unfortunately most of the organization do not include and do not communicate the key cost components to the employees. As for employees they would see time spent by the senior management in discussions & meetings, travelling cost for such meetings, man hours wasted during the change implementation and man hours spent making the changes. If these cost components are not included you cannot get the real cost of the change.
· Not appointing a dedicated change manager. Every change has to be managed, communicated and implemented very efficiently, appointing people experienced in implementing the changes will definitely help. Just taking a one way communication approach which literally tells the employees that we have made the changes and now go ahead align to these does not help in bringing people on board with the changes.
For most part of it success of a change depends on intent behind it and how it is being communicated. Keeping the employees in lurch or state of confusion during the entire process will not help generate employee commitment for the change. Most employees would not like any prolonged state of confusion and this would start impacting the employee morale and organization productivity.