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Change is gonna come

As companies revamp themselves in an era of disruption, bosses should prep the workers

The year 2019 - that is when the landscape alters for some teachers.

The Ministry of Education plans to merge schools in 2019 due to low birth rates and smaller cohort sizes. It will prepare teachers for the merger, assured the Minister of State for Education, Dr Janil Puthucheary, in Parliament earlier this month.

For example, a secondary school teacher who is redeployed to a primary school will go through courses that will equip him with skills to teach students at a different level.

Given the demands of global competition and digital disruptions, companies must often recast themselves. But reorganisations that are not properly planned create chaos and suspicion.

There are two principles that make the process less traumatic for employees: involvement and clarity.

INVOLVEMENT

Involve affected staff...

  • Early: Let them know as soon as possible and give them control over details that affect them. Seek their opinions and honour their input.
  • Individually: Do not assume that what motivates you will motivate others. Recognise that any reform represents a threat individuals understandably shrink from. Help them navigate the new environment by addressing their fears.
  • Emotionally: Engage with them openly. If you are requesting a tough revamp, acknowledge that. But encourage people to look at the upside too.

CLARITY

In its article in the Hartford Business Journal, Right Management also highlighted the hallmarks of clarity. Bosses should...

  • Identify champions and cynics: People need assessment of their strengths and weaknesses when faced with new scenarios. A change readiness assessment identifies employees with the strongest change skill set - your champions. It also helps managers discuss how an individual's cynicism may affect group dynamics.
  • Map it out: Spell out how reorganisation will take place. Pinpoint key areas in which employees are likely to be affected, such as how remaining employees will shoulder more work after a workforce reduction.
  • Provide support: Line managers must lead employees through the upheaval clearly. Managers should hold individual meetings with each team member.
  • Keep score: Measurement is key but many businesses overlook the scoreboard. If you fail to let employees see where they are, how can they be asked to adjust what they are doing? Define success from the start and the metrics used to measure whether they have hit objectives.

Employees should also understand the issues that will help them overcome the fear of change. First, analyse the root of resistance. Are you resisting to project strength or hide a weakness?

Next, realise that some upheavals are easier to navigate than others. Give yourself time to adjust, for example, when you have to swop roles in the same company. Finally, know that closing your mind to new ideas may grind your career to a halt. Perhaps the revamps may lead to options that you have always wanted.

Not implemented well, changes can result in loss in productivity, service quality and customer loyalty. Bosses, remodel to inspire commitment.


This article was contributed by Right Management (www.rightmanagement.sg), the global career experts within United States-listed HR consulting firm, ManpowerGroup.

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