Defining organizational change

A top priority for managing corporate change is carried out through effective employee communication. Whether companies are consolidating their departments, downsizing their workforce or undergoing a corporate merger, sticking to an effective and results-based message creation strategy can help to ensure the smooth and successful transitioning from one point to another.

The best practices for employee communication are rooted in good leadership, precise goals and clear methods of carrying out these goals. With this in mind, it is important to align the employees’ goals with those of the business during a time of change. By providing a well-communicated plan of action that details workforce requirements from beginning to end, employees will clearly understand their roles throughout an entire course of change.

One of the more important features of a well-executed employee communication plan involves specifically targeting the audience?or audiences?in question. While many companies exhaust all their resources on creating an enterprise-wide message that generally explains the change about to occur (or sometimes, as it is occurring), it is far more important to tailor an instructional feed of communication to the individual departments within a company.

The best features to include in this targeted employee communication include:

  • Achievable goals
  • Timeline for completion
  • Detailed benefits
  • Guided participation

By providing the right list of objectives - along with the best ways to go about accomplishing them - human resources management is able to complete one of the most important steps in clearly communicating change to employees. Not only will employees be prepared for the change, but also they will know precisely what their roles are in it.

In order to make sure these objectives are carried out on time, an active calendar for their completion is crucial to the progress of the change. As always, clear detailing of the benefits provided to employees for their efficient participation in the change is essential. Often these benefits can be presented through an in-depth explanation of the increased ease of job function and productivity that is to be gained by successful participation.

Perhaps the most important feature of successful employee communication is the emphasis on the importance of each employee. This is especially true in the case of a corporate merger, where all too often the acquiring company’s communication to the workforce of the company being acquired is poorly planned.

Indeed, badly-communicated change can lead to ill will and resentment among the employee base of the acquired company, a situation which has the potential to derail the entire operation.

Case Study : Merger with poor communication of the change management process
Take, for instance, a recent California merger that collapsed in 2003 due to a poorly-managed human resources plan. How did this happen?

Looking back, the most of the failure can be ascribed to one important factor: bad management/employee communication. What it lacked was the required level of sensitivity needed to successfully integrate the employees of the company that was being acquired. These employees ended up receiving the distinct impression that there was a bias against them. This was in part due to the dictatorial nature of the acquiring company’s message, which resulted in minimizing incentive to help participate in the merger as a whole.

Not only did the bad employee communication come across in the official memos and broad-based messages, but? even more importantly?it was manifested on an individual basis. Team leaders of the acquired company were often sidelined by those of the acquiring firm, and their input was routinely left unacknowledged.

Not surprisingly, investors were quick to catch word of the ill will and resentment spreading through the workforce. In this particularly devastating case of poor human resources management, the deficient strategy caused a steep devaluation in the share prices of the combined firms. This drop was so severe that in 2004 a smaller competitor was easily able to buy them both up.

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