Make it Worth the Investment!
Many organizations find themselves at a point of change saturation.
It’s old news that the workplace is turbulent and change does not follow an orderly, linear path. Existing change management tools and approaches are insufficient for addressing all the change that is occurring. There is simply too much going on, and change cannot be managed using simple step-by-step models.
Leaders cannot ignore the seemingly never-ending, planned and unplanned changes co-occurring in their organizations.
All this change is costly. Things rarely return to normal once workplace changes are implemented, and organizational resources are often insufficient to implement changes in parallel and still deliver on daily operations.
Reorganizations, mergers and acquisitions, technology upgrades, personnel transitions, and other changes cost more than the organization’s time and money. All changes require employees to use precious resources to adapt. There is a cost to each and every employee.
The prevailing notion is that employees are fatigued by the multiple, frequent planned and unplanned changes in their workplace that overlap, interact, and often contradict each other.
But, employees’ reactions to the workplace changes differ; ranging from active resistance to ambivalence to enthusiasm.
The predominant focus on negative effects of multiple workplace changes may be missing an important point. Is it possible that change may act as positive turbulence? Might employees actually gain energy or renewed loyalty to their organization if they experienced multiple changes in their workplace as positive, rather than neutral or negative?
To answer the questions posed above and many others regarding change, we created a survey to measure the amount of change employees experience in their workplace and their reactions to these changes. This survey was used in 4 studies and the results provided a new look at change.
In the end, not all change was bad, and the cumulative effect of change all came back to the resources employees use to adapt and have available to thrive in the changing workplace.
Bryan D. Edwards, PhD, is the Joe Synar chair and associate professor of management at Oklahoma State University specializing in human resource management and organizational behavior. Bryan’s research focuses on training and development, performance management, and organizational change and development. His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation, Material Handling Industry of America, US Department of Defense, and other public and private agencies. Bryan received his PhD in industrial/organizational psychology from Texas A&M University and previously served on the faculty at Tulane University and Auburn University.