Friday, 12 August 2016

A few tips on how to manage change effectively

Change is probably one of the most quoted about phenomenons in today’s times and is almost always at the root of every event of any significance (Van Tonder, 2010). When the concept itself is unpacked however, change is simply the process of something becoming different, so then why is it that this notion is often associated with negative connotations?

We have found these negative associations to be especially true when regarding workplace change. According to Kotter and Cohen (2002), the nature of our turbulent reality leaves organisations dealing with at least one of the following; new technologies, mergers and acquisitions, restructuring, new strategies as well as cultural transformations, at any given point in time.

But that’s not all. In our experience, we have observed that any change at work, no matter how big, for example restructuring departments, or small, such as changing seating arrangements, can cause employees to feel unsure. This leaves Human Resource Professionals (HRP) and the like with the challenge that managing change effectively poses.

Essentially, in the words of Kotter & Cohen (2002), when changes are handled well, we win. While we can delve into the many reasons of why people are adverse to change, such as leadership influence, connected-ness to organisation, amount of communication received, personal preferences etc., the list can get rather long. So let’s instead get practical and see what some of the most influential ways in which to tackle this ‘change dragon’ are:
  • Visualise the change: It absolutely vital that leadership envisages the end point of the change. Why is the change required? What benefit will this have? How will their organisation function once the change is rolled out? The answers to these questions are crucial to ensure a compelling vision is created to direct the efforts of the people who are going to be changing (Kotter & Cohen, 2002).
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate: People are the most important part of any change plan. Even with the greatest vision, if this vision isn’t communicated to those who actually have to live and breathe the change, yip - you guessed it, the change initiative will fail.
  • Getting things going: To make sure the change rolls out effectively, it is important to break-down any barriers to the change. These may include increasing training, improving technology and establishing feedback portals.
  • Constant encouragement: It is also important that the people experiencing the change are informed of the project’s progress. Openly sharing success milestones will generate positivity within the team, department or organisation undergoing change.
  • Making the change stick: Once the change plan comes to a completion, it is essential that people continue to act in a way that is consistent with the original change vision. We want the change to stick and do to this, it needs to become a habit for people. Once this has been achieved, it will shape the organisation going forward. 


Jillian Dabbs (MCom Industrial Psychology)

Jillian is a part of our Behavioural Specialist team here at Workpoints. She is our content developer, our avid blogger as well as our party planner.

Workpoints is a fully featured reward, recognition and incentives platform that provides you with the tools to create a high performance organisation. Our easy-to-use application integrates simply into any organisation and instantly encourages staff to do the daily grind with excellence and energy. Visit for more info and a free trial!


Kotter, J. P. & Cohen, D. S. (2002). The Heart of Change: Real-Life Stories of How People Change Their Organizations. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Press.

Van Tonder, C. L. (2010). Organisational Change: Theory and Practice. Gauteng, SA: Van Schaik Publishers. 

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