Your People are Your Most Valuable Asset

In this blog, our Recruitment Consultant Tom Fry, offers some insight to managing change across an organisation.   “Few things are more important during a change event than communication from leaders who can paint a clear and confidence-inspiring vision of the future.” Sarah Clayton (2015)   Arguably, we have seen…

In this blog, our Recruitment Consultant Tom Fry, offers some insight to managing change across an organisation.

 

“Few things are more important during a change event than communication from leaders who can paint a clear and confidence-inspiring vision of the future.”

Sarah Clayton (2015)

 

Arguably, we have seen more change in the way people across globe interact in the last 2 years, than we have seen in the previous 50. Socially, Business, Sport – in any endeavour – change has occurred and has come quickly.

 

Change can be planned or unplanned, but it is a company’s capacity to quickly adapt to change that can be mean success or failure. Many changes are planned and are implemented to drive the growth of the company. The impetus or pressure for this growth (or “change driver”) can be for a variety of reasons. These can be financial, employee well-being, changes to industry standards, legislative changes, or corporate responsibility (or even a pandemic!) among them.

 

Planned change is defined as the “process of preparing the entire organisation or at least a significant part of it for new goals or direction”. Planned changes are made to ensure future growth and success. Change should occur within organisations on a regular basis, because as the ancient Chinese philosopher, Lao Tzu said, “if you do not change direction, you may end up where you are heading!”

 

Change perspectives” aim to describe the different ways on how to view change which are based on theories, beliefs, and expectations. Change perspectives can provide a structure to view change drivers and the best methods of delivering change.

 

One method of delivering change is through the application of Kurt Lewin’s N-step model you’re your business. This three-step model is the process of “unfreezing, moving, and freezing” and can be explained as the process of creating a need for change, implementation, and then the stabilisation of the change.

 

When embarking on a path of planned change in a business, management can consider the ‘organisational development and action research’ approach.  Organisational development and action research are about identifying problems and looking deeply into the human aspects of an organisation.

 

Organizational development (OD) is about people and organizations and how they function. OD is also about planned change. That is getting individuals, teams and organizations to function better. The general observations of an OD approach are:

  • They are characterised by a COLLABORATIVE APPROACH
  • The decisions made for change have a PERFORMANCE ORIENTATION
  • At its roots it is HUMANISTIC
  • The process maintains a SYSTEMS APPROACH
  • In implementing the change, it applies a SCIENTIFIC METHOD; and
  • It draws on BEHAVIOURAL SCIENCE knowledge and technology

 

Complementing this, action research is about identifying the problems, identifying changes, and constantly evaluating those changes. Like OD, focuses on the human aspect of the organisation. This approach asks us to consider 3 questions:

  1. What is the present situation?
  2. What are the dangers?
  3. What shall we do?

 

In answering each of these base questions, it asks us to consider the impact on the most important asset of an organisation: Your People.

 

Organisations today regularly introduce change to capitalise on opportunities, but they can often fail to realise the affect that the change can have on the employees within the organisation. If an organisation can prepare staff for the change, it will make the personal journey of the employee much easier. Utilising Lewin’s model to guide the staff through the change that is taking place will help them cope with the change and will assist in avoiding such business destroying issues such as staff turnover, low company morale, a poor culture and a lack of ownership from your people.

 

The first step of Lewin’s model, “unfreezing” is about preparing the employees for the change that is about to take place. For example, advising the staff through various meetings about the proposed change; be very clear about the reasons for the change; demonstrate and highlight the positive outcomes to be achieved (and how they relate on a personal level to your team); identify any shortcomings or negatives in the pending changes and what system is in place to mitigate these. Ultimately, as a manager/owner, you need to emphasise through communication and action that effective change can only be achieved by taking a truly collaborative approach.

 

The second step is the “moving” stage. This is the implementation and execution of the planned changes. Being thorough in establishing and implementing the right processes, procedures, and policies to ensure that the intended plan is carried out correctly is crucial. This stage of the process should also include investing in staff members. It may include training, development courses or having various team members participate in management review meetings. Adopting a humanistic approach is essential. Demonstrating compassion and interest in the development of staff as they undergo change ensures the effectiveness of a collaborative approach.

 

The final step is the “refreezing” stage. This is cementing the changes made within the organisation and having a clear management commitment to follow through on the implementation process. Transparent and clear processes and procedures must be in place, regular meetings about the new processes, refresher training courses, and regular check-ins with the staff to ensure that they are happy, and their well-being is being looked after. Accountability for, and adherence to the change from senior management or owners through to new entrants to the organisation is essential. The ongoing management of change is often a key component that is given least attention (or even ignored) and the business enters a state of confusion about what is required.

 

Many leaders of organisations (business, sport, government, NGO) identify their people as the most important asset an organisation has. When implementing change, it is essential a considered, well-structured management process is adopted. While is must consider the general business outcomes it is vital that it specifically identifies the needs, wants and impact on your people.

 

“Employees who believe that management is concerned about them as a whole person – not just an employee – are more productive, more satisfied, more fulfilled. Satisfied employees mean satisfied customers, which leads to profitability.”

Anne Mulcahy – former chairperson and CEO of Xerox Corporation

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