Organizational Change Management Turns Disruption into Opportunity

An open moving box on a purple background

Change is hard. That’s equally true for rapid growth, layoffs, restructuring or a merger. Key objectives of organizational change management include minimizing disruption, reducing stress and reinforcing a company’s values, culture and mission. Leaders can accomplish this with planning, communication and training.

Communicate with employees

Clear communication throughout the change is the place to start. Quell rumors and reduce anxiety by telling employees what to expect and helping them prepare for any changes in their roles or in the day-to-day functioning of the company. This might include a messaging campaign or short training modules that reinforce or introduce key tenets of the company values and culture. If the mission or vision statement is changing, consider creating a short training—perhaps microlearning or an infographic—that explains the leaders’ thinking and the process they used to arrive at the new statement.

Enabling employees to discuss the changes and post questions on a collaboration or discussion forum in their LMS can also be helpful. Managers should monitor and promptly jump in to address misinformation or unwarranted fears that surface in these discussions. Stifling rumors early can go far in mitigating stress and confusion.

Prepare for job changes

Any reorganization or restructuring means some employees’ jobs will change. Some employees might take on new duties as others are laid off or reassigned. A merger or hiring spree could bring new tools and technologies that entire departments must learn to use.

Planning ahead is the way to turn stress and anxiety over a change in the workplace into opportunity. Ask managers to meet with affected employees and create learning paths that will prepare them with additional skills and knowledge for their new roles. Advance preparation empowers employees to embrace the changes with confidence.

Align with goals

A restructuring can mean new goals and values for the entire workforce. When planning for organizational change management, consider all levels and all stages of employment. Onboarding materials, the employee handbook and many training materials will need to reflect changes to align employees with these goals.

It’s not enough to update materials so that new hires will learn new corporate priorities; existing employees must be brought on board as well. Social and collaborative tools available through the LMS are also a boon here. These tools can serve to educate employees through games, short training modules or videos.

Creating a series of video interviews with key leaders offers a way to present new goals and values to all employees, in the leaders’ own words and voice. Distribution through the LMS ensures that all employees can easily access them and discuss them with managers and colleagues through forums set up for that purpose.

Don’t forget external stakeholders

Your employees are not the only ones affected by changes.

Include partners, resellers and even customers in your messaging around corporate goals, values and vision, and share LMS materials that outline changes in how you’ll work with these stakeholders.

Be transparent and proactive

Transparency includes communicating clearly with all stakeholders, both internal and external. Present new information in a variety of easy-to-access ways, and offer opportunities for people to raise concerns, ask questions and learn how they will be affected.

In all of this, the learning and development team plays an instrumental role in creating and disseminating information via email, chats, LMS forums and training materials.

With the right preparation and organizational change management steps, it’s possible to minimize disruption. Handled correctly, a significant change can be an opportunity to reinforce corporate values and strengthen brand loyalty among employees, partners and customers alike.