Presented by: Forbes, October 4, 2018
Author: Drew Carter, Director of Currents Studio, H. Hendy Associates
Change is inevitable, especially in today’s ever-evolving workplace. From physical to cultural to technological shifts, the workplace is a mecca for change. While change can be unique (and specific) to an organization, a strategic process can help leaders prepare, equip and mobilize individuals and teams to embrace transition — it’s called change management, a methodology for influencing people to support a common goal. If there’s one thing to remember about change management, it’s this: Organizations don’t change, people do.
In the past decade, technology, people and physical spaces have converged in ways that have dramatically changed office design. With a renewed focus on workforce optimization, the workplace has transformed from a destination where work gets done to a stimulating space for how work should get done. And companies are taking note. Traditional office spaces that were once designed for status are now evolving to become workplace environments that enhance functionality and employee performance.
For some organizations, this means better utilizing their overall square footage in ways that optimize employee productivity and support their specific tasks and needs. For example, managers converting their private offices into mixed-use areas with desks and more space for teamwork and collaboration. Micro-offices, bullpens, office neighborhoods designed for specific departments or functional teams and spaces outfitted with modern technology are becoming more prevalent in workplaces today and enable employees to switch efficiently from independent work to team activities.
While these office design concepts enhance the employee experience, they aren’t always
intuitive. In some cases, they go against cultural norms. And any change that feels like a loss to
employees can be tricky to navigate.
Here are four ways to leverage change management techniques in ways that empower people
to embrace change:
1. Believe in the change. Whether a change effort is driven by necessity or enthusiasm for
innovation, support must be genuine. If it’s not, rethink the purpose of the change, your role in it
or both. Be prepared to live the change and lead by example.
2. Acknowledge that change is emotional. “What’s in it for me?” is a key question every
person wants answered. For managers, this may be a contentious subject — after all, we’re all
adults and are here to do our jobs. But the reality is that it only takes a few detractors to derail a
change effort, and change that feels imposed often leads to resistance and fear, even if there’s
plenty of data to support it. Change is emotional. Influencing people to adopt change can be
supported, but not driven, by data. Rather, take the data and make it emotional. Consider that
when people actively want the change to happen, management is more about controlling the
speed of the roll-out rather than encouraging people to quickly adapt.
3. Identify your supporters and manage resistors.Individuals who support the change
initiative should include leadership and respected staff who are vocal about improvements.
Identify your biggest resistors early on and make them a part of the change-management team.
Don’t forget to have open and honest conversations with employees to identify any reservations.
This feedback may or may not alter the effort, but it will make your plan and approach stronger
by enlisting everyone to carry some responsibility for success.
4. Engage a professional. While project managers serve to meet an organization’s project
goals and business objectives, their role is focused on the technical aspects of planning and
execution. They shouldn’t get confused with change managers — professionals who focus on
behavior, group dynamics and communication. There are synergies between project
management and change management and the two should work in tandem, but they are
different disciplines. With this said, enlisting a change manager on your team to help lead the
process of adoption and buy-in can help mitigate resistance and be an advocate for your
As workplaces become increasingly dynamic, companies will need to evolve their office design
to meet the needs of their staff and business objectives. To ensure a successful transformation
with change management techniques, gain acceptance by activating and engaging employees
in the change. While change management may seem daunting, when applied effectively, it can
serve as a strategic tool for business success and enhance a company’s bottom line.