Embracing Organizational Change Takes a Human Approach

People say “change is good” and for the most part, they are right. Without change, growth would not occur and boredom would settle in. However, change can also be frustrating and negative if it isn’t handled correctly. Effectively managing change is a fundamental component of emotional intelligence. Learning how to proactively react to people and to the changing landscape of life is essential for both short and long-term success.

How can a leader successfully manage change within an organization? It requires human connection from the leader to the two most important assets in a company: 1) the employees 2) the current customers. Employees are the life-line of a business and are often over-looked. When major change occurs, your employees are a key component in handling the transition effectively. Why? If your employees trust the company and feel confident that their jobs are not threatened, they will have a more positive outlook regarding the changes and will most likely convey this to the customers. Everyone fears change. It causes us to step outside our comfort zones to an unfamiliar territory where risk is apparent. The more upfront and honest you are with your staff regarding the expectations and goals of the company and how it will affect their positions, the easier the transition will be.

Some businesses make the mistake of withholding information from their employees in order to prevent panic. The problem with this can be when small pieces of information leak out, rumors ignite and spread quickly throughout an organization. This in turn breeds panic by the employees for fear of losing their position, their leadership and their benefits. This typically causes a negative energy that spreads to the customers.

Customers panic much like the employees when they find out about a major change that is taking place within their regular place of business. They worry about how it will affect their lives such as, having to drive further to the new location, or losing benefits as a loyal consumer, or experiencing deficiencies in their current level of customer service.

Clients who frequent a business regularly are used to employees recognizing them as loyal customers. If the company changes ownership and loses its quality employees, consumers may in turn feel abandoned.  Employees and customers go hand in hand. By following the steps below, you can assist both the employees and your customers in effectively dealing with the transition:

  • Provide as much information as possible when informing the customer and employees of the transition. This will limit the opportunity for rumors to propagate.
  • Be honest and direct with your clientele and staff regarding the change. Customers and employees appreciate the truth, even if it is disappointing or of concern. This will enhance the trust and integrity of the business.
  • Retain quality employees. By keeping the key staff, you are building upon a solid foundation for the change to make a positive effect. Loyal customers will appreciate the familiar faces with the transition.
  • Train the employees to handle customers’ concerns regarding the change. Clients need to know they will be taken care of in the process. Educating the staff on how to deal with customers’ concerns can ease the process. Employees need to do some “hand holding” to assist the customers with the change.
  • Evoke a positive environment with the change. Throw a party, grand opening, or ribbon-cutting event to celebrate. Modeling a positive outlook will help everyone feel more comfortable and excited about the transition. It is especially important that the leaders of the organization express themselves in a positive manner. If management is negative, employees will follow and customers will be next in line.

By making the employees and customers a priority in dealing with a major transition, you increase the chance of positive change taking place and building a stronger and more effective business in the process.

For further information on change management or customized coaching for your organization, contact Dr. Renée Kennedy-Edwards at 317-939-1110 or