Thursday, September 15, 2005

Organizational change - communicate and succeed!

Every successfuly organization will change in order to respond to market and customer needs, and ours is no different.

Since I tend to have a developer's outlook on things, I also see organizations are being no different than software. That is to say that at times, you need to update the organization with a “point release” and, at other times, you have to do “maintenance releases” to the organization. As a result, our organization has to act like a perpetually upgradable entity; we have to be prepared to do small and big organizational changes on a regular basis.

Here are some things to keep in mind as you introduce change to your organization (note: some of this information is from an article on organizational change by Susan M. Heathfield):
  • First things first: develop a written communication plan. Change is pointless if nobody knows what you are doing or why you are doing it.
  • Communicate consistently, frequently, and through multiple channels, including speaking, writing, video, training, focus groups, bulletin boards, intranets, etc.
  • Communicate all that is known about the changes, as quickly as the information is available. If you do not do this, you may get the information “leaking” to the impacted staff.
  • Be available for questions.
  • Recognize that true communication is a “conversation.” It is two-way and real discussion must result. It cannot be just a presentation.
  • Provide answers to questions only if you know the answer. Leaders destroy their credibility when they provide incorrect information or appear to stumble or back-peddle, when providing an answer.
  • Leaders need to listen, just listen. Avoid defensiveness, excuse-making, and answers that are too quickly given.
  • Hold interactive workshops and forums in which all employees can explore the changes together, while learning more.
  • Publicly review the measurements that are in place to chart progress in the change efforts.
  • Publicize rewards and recognition for positive approaches and accomplishments.
  • Help people to understand how these changes will affect them personally. (If you don’t help with this process, people will make up their own stories, usually more negative than the actual truth.)

Change is inevitable, and it is our responsibility as leaders to ensure that the organizational changes address are implemented the right way.


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