All companies change, that’s just a fact. It’s also a fact that humans hate change. That’s why the discipline of Change Management exists, which aims to help move an organization from a current state to a desired future state. A big part of that is managing employees’ emotions and reactions.
To do that, you need to understand exactly how the organization works so you can get a clearer view of those working within it. One of the many change management tools used by consultants aims to do just that. There are 8 types of organizations, and it’s incredibly useful for change managers and general managers alike to know which one they land in. Which of these do you think describes your organization, and what does that mean for leadership and change?
People that see organizations as machines want control and order and think logic reigns supreme. This mindset works in the same context as actual machines work – when there’s a straightforward task, but fails in a changeable environment. Under this paradigm, the leader/manager thinks that the workers are more replaceable, which can get them into trouble during change as they’d have to replace a lot of people.
If you think your company is more of an organism, you may be more primed for corporate change as you’ll likely view changes to the environment as forces to respond to. This metaphor works when there’s a clear change but fails when it’s not at all clear how the organism should respond.
A brain-like organization considers employees as sensors and management as a way to make sense of the world and learn through employees. It works when the environment is unknown but stable (e.g. pharmaceutical industries) but fails when there is unprecedented change.
Those who think of their organization as a cultural system think of it as a mini-society with cultural values. It works when talent competition is fierce but fails if it enters into a cult-like state, as a bad case of groupthink can be terminal.
These organizations are mainly focused on gaining power and influence. Employees are considered as followers that should be obtained, other company leaders as allies or foes. It works when there are diverse conflicting interests in a company, but fails when there is a threat that is so great that only the collective organization together can beat it.
Those who see organizations as a psychic prison fear that their organizations are too static in their thinking. It works when history and norms have deluded the organization, leading to complacency and can be best described as being a collection of myths and stories that restrict thoughts, ideas and actions.
Those who think organizations are instruments of domination don’t tend to be too good to work for. They see employees as objects and natural resources available to their company to do with what they want. This fails in industries where worker happiness and motivation is important, and is the classic picture painted by critics of capitalism.
If you see an organization in terms of flux and transformation, you’ve embraced uncertainty and complexity – it’s like taking a really effective organism perspective and works when there is continuous complex change. It can fail when it’s overcomplicating the matter a bit.
Having a clearer idea of your manager’s perspectives can help you drive your corporate change in the right direction, but you need to combine it with some other tools if you want to successfully implement corporate change.
Employee engagement is one of the most important tools used by the top change management consultancies. Once you’ve sorted out the management’s attitudes, you must turn your attention on your employees. How will your employee’s perceptions need to be changed? Will they need to be helped to do things differently for the change to become a part of their everyday lives? This involves careful tracking of employees to measure how they’re responding to the change. Only when your employees are on board with the change can it really be called successful.
Change management is never going to be easy. It involves a complex assessment of managerial and employee attitudes, and top companies spend a lot on making sure it goes smoothly. Change management became very popular when companies had to change their model for the digital age, but even if your company isn’t going through such a seismic shift, you need to be diligent and understanding that progress takes time.