Managing and Coping with Organizational Change

Management Development Plus (MDP) assists health, education and human service organizations enhance their services in cost effective ways that improve employee productivity and consumer satisfaction.

Nowadays, change is inevitable in the workforce, whether it takes the form of staff or job responsibility changes, reorganization, policy or procedural changes, technology advancements, product or service diversification, mergers, expansion or downsizing.

To effectively manage change, managers need to understand some of the different ways individuals tend to respond to organizational change and to reflect on where they as managers fall into this pattern. Only then can the manager address the individual worker or team response. In some instances, managers will need coaching to help them develop this skill. In some instances, workers will benefit from workshops on organizational change. Individuals respond more favorably to change when they are assisted in understanding their common and unique reactions, fears and concerns and when these are acknowledged. The more open communication and preparation they receive in advance, the less susceptible they will be to rumors and fears.

Keep in mind that change, even positive change, often provokes anxiety. If we win the lottery tomorrow, our lives will drastically change; yet, the anticipation is sure to cause anxiety and how we typically experience change will affect how we respond. Until that day comes, we will no doubt have to concern ourselves with changes in the workforce.

By utilizing effective techniques to plan and prepare managers and workers for change, we can minimize the stress and sense of powerlessness that so often accompanies the change. We can identify and effectively address potential obstacles. Only then can we develop a cooperative spirit that ensures optimum job performance and successful implementation of any organizational change.

Some Common Response Patterns to Organizational Change

  • The negative responding individual predicts the change will be bad and so confronts all attempts at change with a very pessimistic view. This individual might be openly hostile, complaining or refusing to go along with changes or he may withdraw with apathy.
  • The individual responding as an instigator attempts to get others riled up to oppose changes or to act in ways that impede their success. His actions often lead to fostering general mistrust and low morale.
  • The "passive aggressive" responding individual acts as if he is cooperating, but in fact very subtly sabotages whatever is put into effect.
  • The "go with the flow" responding individual cooperates and tends to take a wait and see position.
  • The positive thinking individual approaches change as a motivating challenge and an opportunity for new learning and growth.

Tips for Managers

  • Prepare your workers. Communicate openly, clearly and ahead of time. Describe the anticipated changes as completely as you can. Provide opportunities for individuals to express their feelings and concerns.
  • Allow for initial anger, withdrawal or hesitation in how workers address change. You may see a lot of activity, but little accomplishment.
  • Distinguish between aspects of the change that you or your workers can control and those that you cannot. Addressing areas in which you can have influence will decrease the feelings of powerlessness.
  • Focus on the opportunities for the future rather than dwelling on the security of the past and on the feelings of powerlessness that first come when change is imposed upon us.
  • Consider scheduling private coaching sessions to enhance your skills in managing organizational change

To learn more about the benefits of individual coaching to manage organizational change or to schedule group workshops that facilitate organizational change contact MDP today!


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