Communicate Well and Avoid the Grapevine Effect

Change Management Tips

Change Management

By: Amy DeBruyn, SHRM-CP (she/her), HR Consultant, Insight HRM

A recent article by Harvard Business School Online reported that “approximately 50% of all organizational change initiatives are unsuccessful.” Let’s dig into why that is and how you can successfully manage and even celebrate change in your organization.

The Challenge:

Change within an organization is largely inevitable, so why are we so bad at it? Why is it so painful? Pose this question to stakeholders at all levels of an organization and the responses will vary wildly. Change can be fun, exciting, and a great opportunity to learn and grow. Conversely, change can be scary, difficult, and confusing. So, what makes or breaks a change initiative’s success?

The Solution:

It’s been my experience that employee buy-in and communication (read: dialogue) are the two most essential components of any type of organizational change. Of course, organizations make changes all the time without employee buy-in – but it usually tends to be pretty rocky and it doesn’t have to be.

Depending on the complexity and type of the change under consideration, surveying employees early on (before decisions have been made), developing and working with a focus group, or other information seeking efforts to obtain employee feedback will all serve to bring transparency, credibility, and engagement to the change at hand. This is especially true when the change directly impacts employees’ day to day processes and hands on work. It’s highly likely that employees can provide insight to what works really well, what slows work down, and they’ve surely thought about how things can be improved. This goes for big policy changes as well.

Employees who feel their organization seeks their input, listens to and acts on their feedback, are more likely to be engaged in finding solutions and approach change with an open mind and trusting heart.

Everyone wins when organizations get this right. When they don’t, dissent, distrust, resistance, and turnover are more prevalent.

Communication is also essential for success.  See article: “Communicate Well and Avoid the Grapevine Effect.

We can research change processes, do’s, don’ts, how’s, and why’s all day long, but when it comes to changes that affect employee day to day work or big policy changes, be intentional with putting buy-in, communication, and transparency front and center stage. Your employees, your organization, your future self will thank you!

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    About Amy DeBruyn
    Amy DeBruyn is an HR Consultant with Insight HRM. She has a background in Healthcare, Non-Profits, Accounting and Payroll, Higher Education, and Manufacturing. Amy also serves on the Human Resource Association of Southeast Michigan’s Board of Directors as the Diversity Director where she shares Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion workplace initiatives and best practices with other HR leaders. She has presented topics of special interest including Gender Roles in the Workplace, LGBTQ+, Neurodiversity in the Workplace, and Unconscious Bias.
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