Companies constantly need to adapt and evolve because of changing market conditions, new technologies, consumer behaviour, new regulations and policies, and competitive pressure. Often this is just to remain competitive and sustainable. Organisational change is therefore common in the business world. However, it is rarely welcomed by employees.
As human beings, we are naturally afraid of change and tend to oppose it. In business, this kind of attitude is detrimental to employee motivation and productivity. It is therefore important to have a strategy to support change within your organisation, and encourage your employees to join in.
What is organisational change?
It is a deep change in the company that involves a transformation of practices and behaviours, which has repercussions on the culture, the way of operating and the internal processes of the company.
This transformation can be :
- Intentional and planned, meaning that the company voluntarily wishes to change in order to seize new opportunities;
- inflicted and forced, meaning that when faced with a sudden situation, the company has no choice but to change its current practices.
For example, a restructuring, the arrival of a new CEO, a merger or acquisition, a pandemic or the acquisition of new software are all organisational changes that will undoubtedly alter the day-to-day working experience of your employees.
Organisational change can be driven by a number of factors:
- the economic climate can force the company to lay off staff and reorganise its departments;
- new competitors forcing the company to change and improve to continue to attract new customers;
- new technologies that have completely changed the way we work;
- the ever-changing needs and behaviours of consumers, which require business adaptation
- new laws and regulations that the company must comply with in order to continue working successfully
Discover the 3 strategies you can put in place to accompany organisational change.
1. Lewin’s model
To manage change, the American psychologist Kurt Lewin uses the metaphor of a block of ice and suggests following three stages.
- The unfreeze phase: the objective is to melt the ice block so that it can be changed. In other words, you need to make your employees aware that change is inevitable given the current situation. Get your employees together, explain the change that will take place and why it is necessary.
- The transition (change) phase: put the melted ice block into a new mould. Now you define new practices and provide your employees with the tools, guidance and support they need to implement the change. Identify and deal with resistance to change. Communicate, listen, reassure and train your teams. Leave no stone unturned to ensure the success of the change.
- The refreezing phase: this is the time to solidify the ice block, i.e. to consolidate the change to prevent old habits from returning. Use feedback from your staff and make adjustments if necessary.
Lewin’s model is best suited to small-scale changes such as the introduction of remote work or the acquisition of new software.
2. Kotter’s model
John Kotter, a professor at Harvard Business School, is renowned for his knowledge of leadership and change. He suggests eight steps to managing organisational change to increase employee buy-in and reduce resistance to change.
- Create a sense of urgency: this helps to trigger change, making your employees aware that they must act now. Provide tangible evidence of what you are doing (KPIs, SWOT analysis, statistics, customer complaints, etc.).
- Form a steering team: surround yourself with allies to convince all your employees. Build a strong and influential team, including popular employees, those with seniority, experts in a field, and those who are reluctant to change.
- Develop a strategic vision: clarify your vision of the future, project yourself and develop the strategy needed to achieve this vision.
- Communicate this vision: communicate your vision to motivate your employees on a daily basis. Be transparent and use relevant communication tools.
- Encourage action: make each of your employees responsible by assigning them a role and tasks in leading the change. This is an excellent way to motivate them to take part in the change.
- Generate quick wins: keep the momentum and motivation of the team going by setting short-term goals, and celebrating each success.
- Consolidate successes for more change: while every small victory is important, it is essential to sustain the change until the long-term strategic vision is achieved. Consider analysing what worked and what didn’t, and gradually set more ambitious goals.
- Anchor the new practices in the culture of the company: change is a transition phase. It is time to embed the new practices in the culture of the company in order to make them sustainable.
Kotter’s model is suitable for companies that want to change their strategy.
3. McKinsey’s 7S
The McKinsey model, developed by two consultants from the McKinsey consultancy firm, presents seven interconnected variables, each of which must be taken into account when implementing a change.
Within your organisation, these seven elements (7 S’s) must be aligned to ensure success. They are divided into two categories: the hard Ss (tangible and easily identifiable) and the soft Ss (intangible and more difficult to describe).
The hard Ss
- Strategy: your company’s plan for achieving its goals.
- Structure: the way the company is organised, the division of labour, the links between functions, the hierarchy, etc.
- Systems: the processes, procedures, operating methods, decision-making system.
- Style: the management style in place in the company.
- Staff: the characteristics of the company’s staff (number, professions, profiles, etc.).
- Skills: the skills held at individual and collective level.
- Shared Value: the fundamental values found in the company’s culture.
As all these elements are interdependent, any change in one requires a re-evaluation of the other six. For example, is it possible to change the company’s strategy without affecting the shared values? The McKinsey 7S model helps you understand the consequences of change in your organisation, and thus better prepare for its implementation.
Whatever the planned change, these support strategies will help you to implement it and win the support of your employees.