Eric P. Bloom: Organizational change
When people think about organizational change, it seems that the same old sayings always to come to mind.
- The more things change the more they stay the same.
- The only constant is change.
Even though I don’t personally like these sayings, having been employed by corporate America for most of my life, I have found them to generally be true. That said, I believe these sayings to be self-defeating, look at organizational change as an ongoing negative and provide no value when a changing work environment is thrust upon us.
I like these expressions much better:
- Change brings both risk and potential reward.
- Those that embrace change can profit by it.
I find these expressions to be forward-thinking, energizing when faced with change and helpful when trying to instill a positive attitude in others.
Companies change for many reasons. Some organizational change is self-induced, meaning the company management has made the decision to strategically move in a specified direction. Sometimes however, change is forced upon a company in order to survive.
That said, organizational change may be initiated for various reasons including the following:
- Company mergers and buyouts, and takeovers.
- Market pressure caused by innovative competitors.
- Changes in the economy, both good and bad.
- Change in company leadership.
- At a micro level, maybe you just got a new boss.
Early in my career, I worked for a large software company and truth be told, I loved working there. Then one day, our parent company bought our major competitor and merged the two firms. As a result, there was an enormous amount of change. As you would expect, there were winners, there were losers, but for most of us work just continued.
When I eventually left that company, I went to work for a large insurance provider and laughed to myself that this company was much too big to be bought out or merged with another firm. Well, I was right, but guess what they did? They outsourced the information technology, the department I working in, to a vendor. This change ended up being more tumultuous to me personally than the merger at the software company.
All that said, my suggestion to you is:
- Be resilient.
- Embrace change.
- Know that in time a new standard norm will emerge.
Regarding being resilient, my belief is that resiliency plays an enormous role in our journey both professional and personal. There are very few people blessed lives that are never faced with difficult circumstances. For me personally, there is a quotation by Vivian Greene that has always brought me strength.
“Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass ... it's about learning how to dance in the rain.”
Regarding embracing change, if a company has made the decision to change direction, either willingly or unwillingly, as a manager, you are a member of the management team. Therefore, for better or worse, it’s your job and responsibility to help your company make the transition. On the positive side, I have seen managers who embraced a new company direction and personally profited by it. On the negative side, I have also seen managers who refused to follow the company’s new direction and were eventually cast aside.
Lastly, as stated above, in time a new normalcy will take effect, until of course, the next big change is dramatically presented.
The primary advice and takeaways from today’s column is to know that:
- When organizational change is thrust upon you be resilient, help facilitate the change.
- As a manager, it’s your job and responsibility to help your company make the transition.
- Very often, those that embrace change can profit by it.
For additional information on today’s topic, I suggest the book “Strategic Organizational Change,” by Michael Beitler.
Until next time, manage well, manage smart and continue to grow.
Eric P. Bloom, based in Ashland, Mass., is the president and founder of Manager Mechanics LLC. He is also a nationally syndicated columnist, keynote speaker and author of the award-winning book “Manager Mechanics: Tips and Advice for First-Time Managers.” Contact him at eric@ManagerMechanics.com or visit www.ManagerMechanics.com.