The Biggest Challenge to Implementing a Successful Organizational Change

Have you ever heard an executive say: “Our people are our most important asset.”?

It’s such a common phrase to hear, and yet it is hard to know what it really means. Ask an executive and she might say things like:

  • We recruit the best people, pay them well, train them, and promote them from within based on merit.
  • We create a positive working environment, focus on diversity, run healthy living initiatives, and actively foster a unique culture.
Reorganization cartoon

An outcome to avoid

In order to do all of these things well, teams spend years streamlining processes, hiring people to fill specialized roles within HR, working with global software vendors to manage the data, and  bench-marking “employee engagement” surveys to publish in annual reports.

This all works well until a company needs to perform an organizational change. Organizational change is as certain as death and taxes, and yet companies are failing to prepare for it. Without preparation for the next merger, reorg, or downsizing, this is what typically happens:

  • Employees are viewed predominantly through the lens of “cost”
  • Decisions are allowed to be driven by those who are “loudest” or “best connected”
  • Commitments to diversity, health, merit, and a positive culture are down prioritized
  • Investments in HR technology are squandered because they can’t handle the flexibility of an organizational change.

So what is the biggest challenge to implementing a successful organizational change? Preparation.

Executives can prepare for organizational change by:

  • Asking HR teams to take a strategic role in organizational change
  • Pre-evaluating the tools, methods, and vendors that specialize in organizational change
  • Communicate the principles that will be followed during future organizational changes

I’ve personally worked with great executives that are on the leading edge of organizational change and have seen first hand the positive results of implementing well-prepared changes. More can be done to prepare for organizational changes and it is a task worth doing to truly treat people as your most important corporate asset. Will you?




3 Simple Keys for HR to Manage a Successful Org Change

As an HR professional, you are bound to get a request to manage an org change. Your business will need to scale up or down in some areas, change people’s roles, or build a new structure from scratch. These are strategic changes and this is your chance to establish HR as a strategic partner.

Before you get that request, prepare to manage a successful org change by remembering these 3 simple key concepts that we’ve learned from supporting merger integrations, reorganizations, and downsizing processes:

  1. Get your data in one place
    • If you have to open several systems and documents to understand your organization, you will drown in administrative tasks before you even start to make strategic decisions. Before an org change starts, discuss with your team how you can get all of the data you need into one place. Perhaps you already have a system that lets you work with different scenarios in the safety of a secure sandbox. If not, assess if an online tool that is quick to set up could meet your needs (for example, try a free account on our OrgWeaver software platform)
  2. Know who needs to be involved
    • Make a list of every stakeholder who will need to provide information or receive reports during the org change (Executives, Managers, HR, Recruiters, Employees, Unions, Shareholders, etc.). Org changes require a lot of communication, so it is important to identify ahead of time who will be in charge of gathering & sharing different types of information for different people on a regular schedule.
  3. Keep track of decisions
    • No matter how good an HR team’s intentions are during an org change, you will be required to answer difficult questions about how decisions were made. From the very beginning of an org change, keep consistent notes on who made decisions, at what time, and for what reasons. If you don’t have the capacity to track these decisions on your own, a software tool like OrgWeaver can automatically keep track of how decisions were made.

We’re taking our own advice here at BrightArch to “keep things simple”. We’ve simplified the name of our software to OrgWeaver (which everyone agrees is much easier to say than OrganizationWeaver). And we’re simplifying the way customers can pick up and use OrgWeaver to solve complex org change challenges. More to come in the coming months.