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Thursday, October 21, 2010

Is Change Interfering With Your Productivity?

Nearly two-thirds of senior executives and human resource professionals say that employees are struggling to focus amidst all the changes at work, according to a recent poll conducted by Right Management. While that may not be completely surprising to you, the larger problem is that they also acknowledge it is seriously impacting productivity levels.

Reacting to change is an emotional roller coaster. The greater the impact of the event and the less welcomed the change is for people, the more dramatic the emotional response will be. The process often includes a time of clinging to the past, followed by a period of apathy or hopelessness, and finally the eventual acceptance and positive movement toward the future. It’s actually a healing process, and individuals differ greatly in how long they move through it and how well.

To accelerate the pace of change implementation and increase the potential of succeeding with the objectives driving the change, you need to build change management capabilities at all organizational levels. Each organizational level – senior leaders, middle managers and staff – needs to learn how to effectively respond to and manage change. But each requires different capabilities, depending on role and amount of control over the process. For instance:

-- Senior leaders need to ensure engagement and alignment. They should encourage input from employees, communicate and keep them informed about the change process, value and act on ideas, follow through on actions, and model appropriate responses to change.

-- Middle managers need to facilitate change and help employees understand the reasons and objectives for the change. Provide direction and support, understand typical responses and cycles of change, guide people through the cycle, and help them to maintain their productivity through the process.

-- Employees need to continue to meet performance objectives during and after a change initiative. Involve them in the process. Ensure they understand the rationale for change, their role in making change work, and what is expected of them. Create strategies to help them overcome natural resistance to change, and show them how to recognize their own styles and reactions to change through assessments, workshops and team meetings.

If you are frustrated with the impact of change on productivity, consider building change management capabilities at all organizational levels. Are your employees struggling to focus and maintain performance levels?

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