linkedin twitter facebook

The Human Dimension of Organizational Change

The concept of change means something is becoming different.  When your organization starts initiatives to improve performance, address key issues, or drive new opportunities, change – becoming different – is required in processes, methods, technology, and organizational structures.

In any undertaking of organizational change, people within that organization must change first – acquire new knowledge, take on new tasks, modify habits, changes attitudes, adopt new values – because it’s the behaviour of people which will ultimately determine what changes can be successfully made and what benefits will be realized.  The human element of organizational change is a key factor in effective change management (link “effective change management in a nutshell” blog).  Individual employees need to be successful in their personal transitions in order for the organizational transition to succeed.  

But how do people change?  Let’s look at the relationship between change in people and organizations.

Change in People

What is the process that brings about behavioural and organizational change?  Different people have different levels of willingness and ability to change and everyone takes different amounts of time to adapt.  But regardless of these factors, change takes place in the same order:

  • Knowledge – acquiring information about the change and understanding the reasoning for it always comes first.  Generally, because this step is rational, it’s the easiest and takes the least amount of time.
  • Attitude – accepting the need for change both rationally and emotionally.  The second step is harder and takes longer because emotion is now involved.
  • Individual Behaviour – once the attitude towards change is modified, behavior comes next.  This is considerably harder and takes longer because it fights habit and subconscious conduct. 
  • Organizational Behaviour – the culmination of the process, it takes the most time and effort because it’s dependent on numerous members of the organization successfully completing the first three steps.

While the first step is generally easy, the second and third steps can become roadblocks to successful implementation because it’s here that resistance to change manifests itself.

Resistance to Change

Why does change frighten people?  Resistance to change is determined by character and coloured by personal experience.  But whatever the reason for the fear– lack of conviction, fear of the unknown, habit, lack of trust, or animus for the person promoting change – there are methodologies that can limit resistance in the early stages to make the path to organizational changes easier.

The use of two Lean methodologies – Kanban and Kaizen – are a good way to get started.

Kanban is a visual method for managing work as it flows through a process.  It invites input from all levels of the organization to help identify and implement continuous improvements. The interactive format allows for early engagement and gives employees a sense of ownership of the improvement process, thus promoting buy-in and lowering resistance to the impending change.

Kaizen also involves employees in identifying and implementing change, but focuses on small continuous improvements.  As with Kanban, involving staff creates ownership in the method to drive buy-in – but because the changes in Kaizen are small and incremental, it also lowers resistance to change by reducing how daunting the unknown seems. 

Individual Change Management

While it’s a natural reaction to resist change, being able to successfully adapt to it is necessary in improvement implementations.  However, this ability requires an effective understanding of how change takes place on the individual level throughout each of the change management phases.  The human dimension is the foundation for organizational change – therefore, success in individual change is required to truly succeed on the organizational level.

Trindent recognizes the role individuals play in effective and sustainable change. Click here to learn more about our unique approach to successful implementation.