Change is an uncertainty for all, but when it hits an organisation it can create a multitude of dynamics.  Helene Vermaak, director at corporate culture communication experts, The Human Edge, says that the secret to managing change is staying ahead of any potential problems.  “During times of change it is definitely not business-as-usual and the change elements need to be managed closely.”

Organisational change creates a higher level of uncertainty amongst all those affected.  “It is imperative that leadership manages change by minimising ambiguity and clearing up as many of the ‘unknowns’ as possible,” says Vermaak.  Change tends to bring new organisational dynamics, a negative impact on behaviour and new risk factors. It is important for management to address these elements and manage any uncertainty so as to protect the organisation’s bottom-line.

Vermaak provides the following tips to assist in managing change effectively:

  • Provide employees with focus – organisational change creates distractions and it is management’s role to help clearly define short-term goals and objectives. This helps people to become future-orientated, instead of dwelling on the past.
  • Get resistance to change out in the open – the main key to managing resistance effectively is to invite it! When resistance is too high it can impact staff morale, productivity and result in people resigning.  If resistance is too low, this may be a negative trait as the organisation can be over stabilised and too complacent.
  • Create a supportive work environment – change is accepted more readily in a supportive environment. Create an encouraging and affirming environment, where employees can flourish and change can take root.
  • Hand-out “psychological paycheques” – employees value words of encouragement and compliments. Be sure to hand these out regularly during times of change while asking others for their opinions.
  • Enhance communication – keep employees updated on a regular basis, be specific rather than vague, candid rather than guarded. It is impossible to over communicate during times of transition.

Managing the human side of change is imperative, as organisational change creates uncertainty, clouds the future, creates resistance and ultimately leads to a decline in productivity and in worst case scenarios, damage to the company brand. “By staying ahead of any potential change, you can ensure that change initiatives are successful and create the solutions intended,” concludes Vermaak.