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Navigating through Organisational Change

Organisational change is crucial for staying competitive, but navigating it can be challenging. It requires strong leadership and teamwork to overcome obstacles and drive success.

What Types of Organisational Change Exist?

Organisational change is an inevitable aspect of the dynamic business landscape, driven by factors such as technological advancements, market shifts, and evolving consumer preferences. Effectively managing organisational change is essential for ensuring long-term competitiveness. In navigating these transitions, understanding the various types of organisational change is crucial. In the following, we outline some of the most common types of organisational change, each with its distinct characteristics and implications for organisational success.
  • Organisation-wide Change: Comprehensive restructuring affecting all levels and functions, enhancing adaptability.1
  • Transformational Change: Fundamental shifts in strategy, culture, or operations, driving innovation and competitiveness.2
  • Personnel Change: Strategic adjustment of workforce composition, skills, and roles to align with organisational goals.3
  • Unplanned Change: Disruptive events necessitating rapid response and adaptation to unforeseen circumstances.4
  • Remedial Change: Corrective actions addressing performance issues or deficiencies, fostering continuous improvement.5

Ways to Ensure Successful Organisational Change

Successful organisational change requires a cohesive effort across all levels of the business, from senior management to front-line employees. Each division plays a crucial role in driving and sustaining change, ensuring alignment with strategic objectives and fostering a culture of adaptability.

In the following, we look into key strategies for achieving successful organisational change from an overall business perspective, as well as specific roles and responsibilities of senior management, middle managers, and HR professionals. Through tangible day-to-day examples, we illustrate how each division can contribute to the change process and navigate challenges effectively.

Overall Business Level:

Example: Implementing a new technology platform company-wide to improve efficiency and customer service. Senior management sets clear objectives, allocates resources, and communicates the strategic vision. Middle managers facilitate training sessions and provide ongoing support to employees during the transition. HR coordinates feedback mechanisms and monitors employee morale to address concerns and maintain engagement.

Senior Management Perspective:

Example: Restructuring the organisation to streamline operations and enhance agility. Senior management leads by example, demonstrating commitment to change through visible actions and communication. They establish a change management team to oversee the transition, set milestones, and track progress (e.g. pitstops). Daily or weekly meetings are held to address emerging issues and adapt strategies as needed.

Middle Manager Perspective:

Example: Introducing a new performance management system to align individual goals with organisational objectives. Middle managers communicate the rationale behind the change to their teams, emphasising the benefits and addressing concerns. They provide regular feedback and coaching to employees, highlighting how their efforts contribute to overall success. Weekly or bi-weekly progress meetings are held to discuss challenges and share best practices.

HR Perspective:

Example: Implementing a diversity and inclusion initiative to foster a more inclusive workplace culture. HR conducts training sessions for employees and managers on unconscious bias and cultural competence. They establish metrics to track progress and ensure accountability. Regular pulse surveys are conducted to gather feedback and identify areas for improvement, with action plans developed to address issues raised.

Summary of Actions for All Organisational Levels

Overcome resistance and staff engagement: The change may appear upsetting, therefore transparent and effective communication is necessary throughout the process on every level.

Offer management support: Receiving everyone’s buy-in from C-level to managers is essential when implementing change throughout the organisation, e. g. by documenting feedback, updating employees on progress, encouraging team members to voice their opinions.

Contextual learning for new technologies: Provide a digital adoption platform for a personalised training experience.

Agility Training:

Foster change management skills, e.g. networking, coaching mentoring.

Train your team in productive time management, e.g. what is important vs. urgent and how to prioritise tasks.

Continuous other learning and development opportunities.

How to Deal with Layoffs at Organisational Changes? Significant Effects on Employees after Receiving the News of Organisational Changes

Decreased motivation and engagement:

The perception of job insecurity can lead to decreased motivation and engagement as employees worry about their own job security and prospects within the organisation.

Employees may also feel demotivated and disengaged if they perceive the layoffs as unfair or unjustified, especially if they believe that valuable colleagues have been let go.

Reduced skills and competencies:

The loss of experienced and skilled employees through layoffs can result in a decline in overall skills and competencies within the organisation. Remaining employees may need to take on additional responsibilities or fill gaps left by departing colleagues, potentially stretching their capabilities and limiting opportunities for skill development.

Layoffs may also disrupt ongoing projects and initiatives, leading to knowledge gaps and a loss of institutional knowledge, which can hinder the organisation’s ability to innovate and adapt to changing market conditions.

Decreased adaptability:

Layoffs can disrupt team dynamics and collaboration, as remaining employees may feel demoralised or overwhelmed by increased workloads and responsibilities. This can impede the organisation’s ability to adapt quickly to changing market dynamics or pursue new opportunities.

The loss of key personnel through layoffs may also limit the organisation’s capacity to respond effectively to emerging challenges or capitalise on new opportunities, potentially compromising its long-term competitiveness and sustainability.

Impaired collaboration and teamwork:

Layoffs can strain relationships among remaining employees and undermine trust and cohesion within teams. One of the main reasons, why transparent and effective communication is vital to retain the remaining employees. Remaining employees may experience feelings of “survivor guilt” or resentment towards management, which can create barriers to effective collaboration and teamwork.

The departure of key team members through layoffs may disrupt ongoing projects and initiatives, leading to delays, reduced productivity, and a loss of momentum. This can hinder the organisation’s ability to achieve its strategic objectives and deliver value to customers and stakeholders.

So, how to navigate the workforce through multiple rounds of layoffs, when the above-mentioned effects occur?

Navigating the challenges associated with multiple rounds of layoffs due to organisational changes requires a thoughtful and strategic approach by senior management. Here are some best practices based on known practices and evidence-based research that managers and leaders throughout the organisation can execute:

1. Transparent Communication:

Management should communicate openly and transparently about the reasons for the layoffs, the impact on the organisation, and the criteria used for selecting employees. Clear and honest communication can help alleviate anxiety and uncertainty among employees and foster trust in leadership.

  • Downsizing aims to achieve various objectives such as cost-cutting, streamlining operations, and increasing competitiveness.
  • Downsizing can lead to reduced organisational commitment among surviving employees, resulting in negative impacts such as increased stress and decreased productivity.
    • Provide opportunities for employees to ask questions, share concerns, and provide feedback. Actively listen to employees’ perspectives and address their questions and concerns with empathy and respect.
2. Support for Affected Employees:
  • Offer comprehensive support services to employees affected by the layoffs with the support by HR / People & Culture, including career counselling, resumé writing workshops, job search assistance, and access to outplacement services. Providing practical support can help mitigate the negative impact of job loss and facilitate employees’ transition to new opportunities.
  • Consider offering severance packages, extended healthcare benefits, and other financial assistance to support employees during their transition period. Demonstrating empathy and compassion towards affected employees can help maintain morale and goodwill within the organisation.
3. Investment in Employee Wellbeing:
  • Prioritise employee wellbeing and mental health, especially during times of organisational change. Howdy offers mental and physical health support provided by professional psychologists and physiotherapists. If needed offer additional services, such as employee assistance programmes or mindfulness workshops to your workforce. Ask HR / People & Culture to support you on providing these resources.
  • Encourage employees to prioritise self-care and seek support if needed. Promote a culture of empathy, resilience, and mutual support within the organisation, where employees feel comfortable reaching out for help and supporting each other through challenging times.
4. Continued Development and Training:
  • Invest in the development and training of remaining employees to ensure they have the skills and competencies needed to succeed in their roles and contribute to the organisation’s success. Offer opportunities for upskilling, reskilling, and cross-training to enhance employees’ capabilities and adaptability.
  • Provide ongoing feedback and coaching to help employees identify areas for growth and development. Encourage a growth mindset and a commitment to lifelong learning, where employees are empowered to take ownership of their professional development.
5. Focus on Organisational Culture and Values:
  • Reinforce the organisation’s values and culture during times of change, emphasising integrity, transparency, and respect for individuals. Walk the talk! Ensure that decision-making processes are aligned with the organisation’s values and communicated effectively to employees.
  • Foster a sense of belonging and community within the organisation, where employees feel valued, supported, and connected to the organisation’s mission and purpose. Celebrate achievements – especially the small ones –, recognise contributions, and promote a positive work environment where employees can thrive and succeed.

In Conclusion

The aftermath of layoffs often breeds insecurity and apprehension among remaining employees. A robust communication plan, endorsed by every manager, is therefore imperative to guide the organisation through these turbulent times effectively.


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