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Organizational Change: Perfecting the Process

By Richard Hawkins and Greg Link

Organizational change. Re-org. Shaking things up.

These words strike fear into the hearts of those that hear them. They should also strike fear in those that speak them. But sometimes organizational change is needed for some very good reasons. One that comes to mind is structuring IT to deliver end-to-end services and not just applications.

To reduce the pain often associated with Organizational Change, it’s important to have a clear plan in place that addresses each stage of process.  In this blog we’ll take a look at the stages Organizational Change from beginning to end as a primer on what things need to be considered and when.

Everything has a process and Organizational Change is no exception. The diagram below is a high-level overview of each of the 5 stages of Organizational Change.

Organizational Change Process

Step 1:  Gather and Validate Data

In this phase we look at every level of the organization from the top down along with the skills of each role including that of leadership. Fact is, in many organizations poor performance is more a reflection on leadership than the departmental staff.

Step 2: Perform Organizational Assessment

To assess your organization’s readiness for change, there are a number of questions you need to ask yourself. When did the last re-org take place? What changes were made? How was it received? Is a short survey in order? How formal is your organization? Are there roadblocks that can be removed to allow staff to do their job more effectively? How strict are your policies? Obtaining a cultural baseline is not easy, but well worth the effort.

Step 3: Develop Transition Plan

As you start the planning effort, it’s important to justify the change.  Having a good case for why the organization is undertaking this effort will go a long way toward acceptance.  It’s also important to identify ahead of time what cultural barriers you could face blocking a successful change.

Throughout this stage, you should remember that this effort will affect everyone, so consistent communication is key, and involving many layers of the organization, from directors and managers down to “rank and file” in the planning process will go a long way toward ensuring everyone is on the same page.

Step 4: Implement the Plan

This is another busy stage and, of course, the most important. Proper execution of a well developed plan is the key to success in any endeavor.

Leadership roles should lead by example and be fully committed to the change, and that commitment to the goal must continue throughout every level of the organization.  The success of this effort relies on all parties playing their part.

Seek out areas that may encounter resistance and work tirelessly to resolve them with empathy and understanding. Ownership of a problem in this area may not be an individual mater. It may require senior leadership intervention.

This is another phase where communication, through every means possible, is extremely important. The organization should know how things are going and how issues are being resolved in a timely manner.

Step 5: Validate Plan Success

We’ve done a good job at planning and execution so we’re done right? The new structure is in place and no one has quit or expressed any serious dissatisfaction. But are we really done? A truly good manager says “no” and will look back and make sure the plan and implementation achieved the desired outcome.

Make an initial assessment on how well the organization is working after the changes have settled in. A well timed Town Hall will go a long way in gathering the information needed to validate the efficacy and results of the re-org. If as mass gathering is not an option, departmental meeting should be in order.

In our next blog, we’ll explore 10 of the key actions you need to take along each step of this process to ensure success.

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Richard Hawkins is a Transformation Strategist based in Seattle, WA.

Greg Link is a Transformation Senior Consultant based in Las Vegas, NV.