Tag Archives: Change Management

Some ideas from the Change Blog

Recently, HR Daily featured an article on workplace harassment where claimant Christina Rich received an undisclosed multi-million dollar settlement from Pricewaterhouse Coopers. This was as a result of sexual harassment and victimisation in PwC’s ‘boys club’ environment.

I myself have heard my fair share of poor behaviour in the workplace, from my own experiences to those of friends, colleagues and family members. When I was younger and working at a supermarket I had a manager who used to throw things, yell and swear at staff. When we approached the Store Manager she said that we should be understanding because that’s the way his manager treated him and he didn’t know any better.

Whilst working at another retail store, some team members were involved in an altercation with my brother that resulted in him being hospitalised, a fractured eye socket and having a metal plate put in his face. When I requested not to work with the alleged person as the case was going to court, I was told to get over it by the Store Manager and staff in Head Office. More recently, a friend was told by her employer that they could not afford to pay her anymore due to the GFC. She is currently being underpaid quite a few dollars per hour according to the award wage.


Perhaps these experiences are what led me to work in HR. To look after people, but also to make things more effective.

If we think about cultural change in an organisation, it relates back to what I was talking about yesterday- it starts with changing the way an individual thinks. Now we’ve established that this is a difficult task and one which comes down to the old story about leading a horse to water. Sometimes you get to the point where you’d rather drown the horse than trying to get it to drink water!

Then this morning I came across the Change Blog and felt a little inspired reading a few of the articles. I’m hoping it might give me a few ideas and encourage others along to make personal change.

Here is an excerpt from the blog if you are interested:
Can we change? Yes we can.
Hi, my name is Peter and welcome to my corner of cyberspace.
I started blogging in 2007 to share my personal story of change. To cut a long story short, I know what it is like to be depressed and drifting through life without purpose. My wake up call came in 2006 when I received the unexpected news I was to be a father. This news was the catalyst for me getting my life in order, and these days I am happy to report that life is great.

He doesn’t profess to know all the answers, but it is refreshing to hear someone speak of their personal experiences and he has some pretty good guest posts as well. He talks about why self-awareness is so important to personal growth, health and fitness, career and life- so it’s a holistic approach. If you have some spare time, check it out or subscribe to the RSS feed.


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Filed under Change Management, Diversity/Bullying and Harassment

Helping people change by changing the way they think

Although the blog has been quiet for a few days, I can assure you that there has been a lot of movement for me behind the scenes in my personal life and in the world of work.

I’ve spoken about change quite a bit before, but I’ve somewhat hit a wall in being able to influence personal change on others. Even when I write that down, I know it doesn’t make sense.

You can’t make someone else change, but what if you just want to help them out of a dark place they are in that doesn’t make any sense.

Do you persist or let them go?


We see this in our workplaces all the time. These are people who believe:

* It’s okay to behave badly because that’s the way their boss treated them
* That the environment/company makes them so stressed that their reaction (no matter how poor) is natural, and therefore ok
* That if someone else provokes them or attacks them first- this gives them the right to attack back. It’s all justified if someone else starts it.

We also see it in our personal lives.

With depression and other mental illnesses becoming more publicized, we all know someone who isn’t seeing things as they really are, or are seeing things in a much more negative light.

In thinking about all of this, I often try to remember some basic cognitive behavioural therapy in that there is the event, our thoughts and then our reaction.

There are some things we can control, and other things we can’t. We can’t control the event or the situation but we can control the way we think about it and that impacts on our behaviour and how we choose to respond or react.

What I’m really struggling with is how to convince people of this idea. Have you ever needed to convince people that they can change their behaviour by changing the way they think?

If you have I would love to hear your story- feel free to change individual or organizational names. I think these sorts of stories will be inspiring to others so please share your success story.

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Filed under Change Management, Performance Management

Helping your employees manage change in uncertain times

This morning I was reading an article by Towers Perrin called ‘Ten Tips to Help Your Employees Manage Change in Uncertain Times’ and they had a couple of great ideas that I really loved.

Of course there are the commonly articulated tips like for example, make sure you clarify your strategy and vision for dealing with the economic uncertainty as this will help you communicate the goals and priorities to employees. Communication during times of change is talked about a lot but often not done very well (see an earlier post on this).


I love the idea of setting up a web site where employees can learn what your company is doing — and what your competitors are doing — to manage the crisis. It shows huge transparency and can help employees to feel a lot less angst and even paranoia, during these change periods. In order to build trust, you need to ensure that staff have access to the knowledge it needs to deal with the current situation.

They also suggest sending a weekly e-mail update with successes and challenges. They say that employees respect when leadership is candid, and by communicating with your people, you’ll help them gain confidence in the organization’s future. What a great idea- although I’ve always been a fan of leaders who touch base with their people even if its to say ‘there is no news’.

Another good idea is to meet with groups of employees to listen to their concerns and take onboard their solutions. Some of the best ideas come from the frontline, and this is also true with organisational change. Embrace their opinions and participation, and they will feel valued by the organisation and more committed to seeing out the changes required to ensure future success.

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Filed under Change Management, Recommended Readings

What is change management and what does it mean for employees?

Change management may be defined as ‘the process of continually renewing an organization’s direction, structure, and capabilities to serve the ever-changing needs of external and internal customers’ (Moran and Brightman. 2001).

However, from an employee perspective it usually just means one thing- job losses. In the middle of a recession from the global financial crisis, that’s all people are hearing about each and every day. Everyone knows someone who has lost their jobs and companies are under scrutiny for how much they pay their execs and what they are spending money on. One of the worst examples was that of CEO’s in the US who chartered private jets to ask for bailout money.


The worst case scenario at the moment for an individual is if they are made redundant and must start the search for a new job. The labour market is already saturated with people out of work and baby boomers are feeling vulnerable being close to retirement age, but not close enough to retire. There are also many who had intended to retire, but can’t because their superannuation savings have dwindled. Being out of work is an extremely stressful situation, particularly when it places people under financial pressure.

I’ve been made redundant before and I have to admit that one of the hardest hits is to your self esteem. Sure, everyone worries about money but internally you analyse the situation and wonder why it happened to you, you question if you did anything wrong and sometimes you even feel embarrassed. Western society places a great emphasis on what one does for a living- it’s like your identity. To have that taken away from you on someone else’s terms feels like you’ve lost a part of yourself. I’m glad I’ve been through that experience because hopefully that will make me a better HR professional knowing exactly what it feels like.

However, organizational change doesn’t only affect those who have lost their jobs- take a moment to consider the ‘survivors’ of the event. Change means a different way of doing things and this can cause disruption, concern and angst amongst employees who usually are also saddened by the loss of their colleagues. Its not easy sailing being left behind and many experience some form of ‘role stress’ which is when employees become stressed by ‘role overload (too many tasks given), role ambiguity (not knowing what the job expectations are), and role boundary (caught between conflicting job demands), because the company is pretty much in a state of chaos (Tiong. 2005). There is so much confusion over what is happening whilst also trying to operate ‘business as usual’.

It’s so important to be aware of this for your employees and provide support wherever possible. Remember, everyone is human and will react in different ways. The corporate/scripted speech won’t be the right response in every case so go with your instincts and think how you would like to be treated.

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Times are a changin…

Although change is a part of life and always been an inevitable occurrence in the organisational landscape, arguably over the last twenty years the pace of change has rapidly accelerated. Dealing with this accelerated change is increasing in importance to organisations as highlighted by Kotter (1996. pp. 3-4):

‘By any objective measure, the amount of significant, often traumatic change in organizations has grown tremendously over the past two decades . . . . To date, major change efforts have helped some organizations adapt significantly to shifting conditions, have improved the competitive standing of others, and have positioned a few for a far better future.’


Organisational change is defined by Nelson (2003) as moving from the status quo to a new, desired, configuration to better match the environment; and that it could be viewed as a departure from the norm, or alternatively as normal and simply a natural response to environmental and internal conditions.

It can be attributed to a huge range of factors including but not limited to:

• globalisation,
• technological advances (including the communicative technologies arena)
• deregulation, privatisation, mergers or acquisitions
• movement of labour-intensive projects to less expensive locations
• customer and market changes
• social and political pressures
• organizational crises
• major events such as the global financial crisis

Competition between organisations in a global context has become more aggressive than ever as communication and logistics become faster and simpler, ensuring more streamlined transactions for parties across the world. Additionally with economies competing and changing as they are, this can only mean one thing for organisations; they must remain dynamic, malleable and responsive to stay in the game. Hence the reasons why organisations are scrambling to become leaner organisations at the moment- they’re all just trying to stay in the game.

For Human Resources this means being able to support, guide and assist both the management team and the people of the organisation so that they are able to cope effectively and ultimately come to terms with the changes; personally and as an organisation. Despite a vast amount of literature on the subject of change management, Beer and Nohria (2000) argue that a huge 70 per cent of change programs fail due to reasons such as lack of communication and trust, lack of change management skills and resistance to change.

It is strategically essential that organisations get this right.

What sort of change are you facing in your organisation and how are you dealing with it in HR?

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