Strategic Organizational Change: How to Get Your Employees Engaged

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70% of organizational transformations fail, in most cases, due to the lack of commitment shown by employees. Here are the underlying reasons for this resistance and how to manage strategic organizational change effectively to mobilize your company towards your vision.


Strategic Organizational Change: How to Get Your Employees EngagedAn organization’s transformation requires more than just executive leadership; it also calls for its employee’s true commitment. It is fundamental for them to really embrace the strategy, as they are the front-line soldiers who are going to execute it. Nowadays, many companies are going through a critical phase to obtain their employees’ total commitment to the strategy.

A strategic transformation generates changes throughout all levels and dimensions of an organization. It is human nature to resist change, so the communication between the staff and the executives is of chief importance to succeed in transforming the organization.

How to manage the change in an organization?

The management of change can have two different perspectives: “hard” or “soft”. The hard perspective is composed of the organization’s processes, systems, strategies, tactics and technologies, which can be used to implement the strategy.

On the other hand, the soft perspective is comprised of the behaviors needed to generate the changes in the hard perspective. It involves persuading, tranquilizing, communicating, motivating and inspiring the personal to achieve the change. A great number of executives are not willing to deal with these kinds of aspects. However, knowing how to deal with the soft aspects is fundamental to achieve a successful transformation in an organization.

Emotional response for change

Alexandre Dias Lima’s research states that in organizational transformations employees undergo four psychological stages:

1.       Denial

2.       Resistance

3.       Conditional Acceptance

4.       Commitment

When in denial, people do not consider the imminent change as real. They avoid the subject and refuse to participate in meetings and in the collaborative works and act indifferently to it. In this stage, the communication must be clear and direct, taking the time to explain why and how the change is going to take place.

Employees enter the stage of resistance once they realize that the change is real and irreversible. Consequently, they decide to externalize their opposition to it and find reasons to state why the change won’t work. In this stage, executives must give their employees the opportunity to provide feedback and express their comments and opinions regarding the change.

In conditional acceptance, employees begin accepting the change, even if they still don’t agree with it. As they see peers believing in the change initiative, they become more cooperative. In this stage, executives should communicate the advantages to be attained and provide examples about other companies that have achieved success through similar transformations. The staff can support the process with ideas and their contributions for the project.

In the last stage named commitment, people embrace the cause and commit with the established objectives. To reinforce the employees’ commitment, it is important to communicate and celebrate the attained results, possibly by using a before-and-after comparison.

The person responsible for managing the transformation must be aware of the dynamics of change and the employees’ behaviors and attitudes, as well as constantly monitoring the organization’s activities.

To truly motivate employees to embrace the change, companies should understand the emotional triggers that cause resistance. The most common are:

-        Fear of the unknown. Uncertainty is inherent to change and it may be hard for people to deal with it.

-        Concern about turf invasion. Change initiatives threaten people who are used doing things their own way, especially if they’ve had good results in the past.

-        Loss of power or standing, or changes in the social network. Power shifts, changes of authority, even the alteration of groups of people that work together can upset established relations and networks that helped people performed effectively.

Communication: The main element in organizational change

Communication is vital to successfully achieve an organizational change. Besides informing, communication also needs to become a tool to motivate and persuade people. It is essential in offsetting negative attitudes toward change.

The basic priority of communication should be to transmit to the employees the reasons why the change is taking place and what it will consist of. Executives should also be able to transmit its importance and a sense of urgency for it.

Some investigations indicate that trust is the most important factor in the communication stage. Therefore, it is very important for the staff to trust the person in charge of advocating the change.

Alexandre Dias de Lima indicates that there are six basic rules to communicate change within an organization:

1.       Issue a steady stream of messages affirming that something important is under way.

2.       Emphasize the importance of employees’ involvement.

3.       Clearly explain the purpose of the change and the vision of the organization.

4.       Clarify employees’ role and how they will be affected.

5.       Tailor messages to each audience, in substance and style, but keep the story consistent to ensure credibility.

6.       Communicate in person as much as possible.


At TRISSA we can help you all the way

At Trissa, we know that only 1 in 10 businesses manage to successfully execute their strategy. We can help you be part of that 10%.

We provide our customers the tools and expertise needed to help them clarify their strategy, translate it into operational terms and monitor it to ensure it is implemented effectively.

So go ahead, browse our webpage and get to know us better:

Or send us an e-mail; our consultants would be delighted to answer any questions you may have:


Author: Trissa Strategy Consulting

Source: Alexandre Dias de Lima