Today’s juncture has put companies under thorough economic pressure —plenty of companies undergoing reorganizations, takeovers, mergers, joint ventures and all sorts of restructuring processes are facing the downsides of today’s economic landscape in an attempt to grow and subsequently survive. Suzzanne Uhland has previously reviewed some important aspects companies ought to take into account when the time comes to undergo such dreary process; however, given the pace at which today’s circumstances keep evolving, new challenges are constantly appearing.
All these changes come along with further demands for everyone within an organization: from the CEO to the intern responsible for answering the phone, all of them, without exception, need to either adapt or suffer the consequences. When change is not addressed and handled properly, additional loss of jobs might in fact occur. And last but not least, other consequences have to be foreseen in order to minimize their impact: demoralization of the employees, increased worker turnover, decreased empathy and cooperation amongst peers, higher levels of stress, anxiety and all sorts of work-related illnesses.
So, given the aforementioned circumstances, what can companies do in order to cope with change and restructuring processes? Suzzanne Uhland has come up with several rules and principles that, even though they may not apply to every situation, may also come in handy when facing organizational change.
Change is unavoidable: be prepared
Things change. They always do. Change is and will always be an unavoidable element in life. Today’s business juncture has witnessed, perhaps, a much rapid pace when it comes to change. Since most people are reluctant to face change —in fact, most people hate to even picture the idea of them going through any sort of change —, it is easy to have an accurate vision of how stressful it can be for employees to embrace it. The vast majority of companies have established processes; they are accustomed to daily routines; people always want to feel secure and stable, and will hesitate to feel responsible for something they are not used to: everything but uncertainty is acceptable. Sadly, most companies are forced to undergo changes because of the nature of today’s evolving landscape —new tools, trends, strategies, competitors, substitutes come out of nowhere, and companies need to respond rapidly. Organizational transformations require fast-paced adjustments, for if they do not respond promptly enough, they will end up lagging behind their competitors and subsequently outpaced. Change is inevitable, in fact, is necessary should companies want to remain competitive, and such premise is compelling enough for companies to stop fearing change and uncertainty. Resisting, or even pretending it is not happening is the least advisable thing to do. Instead, companies need to prepare themselves mentally as a whole, including every employee, for the inevitable changes that are always likely to occur.
Engaging with the workforce can carry out such preparation: by having them imagine possible scenarios and brainstorm about how they would respond, the fear of embracing change becomes significantly lower. Nonetheless, if changes never happen, companies will still be better off: having prepared themselves beforehand will certainly enable them to feel much more reassured and confident in their daily activities.
Be aware of unrealistic expectations
The reality is often interpreted from different points of view. In the corporate and business world, unrealistic expectations that come as a result of a misguided interpretation of a specific juncture can be a tremendous source of anxiety and uncalled suffering. Unfortunately, when companies face tough and harsh times, restructuring processes and even other major changes likes the one mentioned before, arise, leading to the appearance of unrealistic and inaccurate expectations amongst peers and the management.
The management may indeed expect that as a consequence of a specific change, productivity will quickly increase, whereas the rest of the employees may think otherwise. These discrepancies between management and the workforce happen more frequently during restructuring processes as they involve change, which is why the management cannot disregard the fact that perhaps most of the time employees perceive things differently since it would totally invite an utter sense of disappointment, resentment and low morale.
Stand for yourself and for the others
During restructuring processes and times of change, it is common for companies and their employees to let themselves be abused: every time an employee is fired or put aside, the natural sense of uncertainty arises and the others will start wondering whether they will be next. This atmosphere of fear and uncertainty may hinder a company’s authority when addressing unreasonable demands. Anxiety spreads like a wildfire across the entire company, making it much harder to obtain support.
Be that as it may, questioning unreasonable policies is oftentimes much wiser than what meets the eye. In fact, it is even appropriate. If a company feels that they and their workers are being unfairly treated, it is advisable to escalate the issue to superiors. Doing whatever it is necessary in order to prevent an angry and demoralized workforce amidst a restructuring process is the most advisable thing to do.
* Featured Image courtesy of Margrethe Vesth-Wiersholm at Pexels.com