In a world of undeniable change, change management is an organized approach to handling inevitable changes so that fewer outcomes of the unstoppable tidal wave are left to chance. Unpredictable as the onset of change is, change management is the difference between reacting loosely to change and taking a deliberate approach to it.
The need for change management as a set of tasks is real and immediate. Why? It is because of the innate nature of human beings and the organizations they create to resist change. Any and all forms of organizations require sets of rules. Change management requires uprooting established – and therefore comfortable – rules of change and ringing in new ones. In such a melee, the factors that get work done as a routine such as accountability, motivation, and focus tend to get diluted. Individuals and teams besieged by change face loss of productivity and can suffer loss of effectiveness too. This happens because changes can come from any direction and cause unforeseen occurrences within the team – people, processes, or products are subject to change.
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One example of the big change that came over workplaces at the beginning of the current century was that of digitalization. Even legacy systems and institutions such as Banking and Financial Services were obliged to pay heed to the advantages of digital transformation and eventually take the digital form. Now, the worldwide pandemic that has outlasted the lifespan of some companies and impacted countless lives, has ushered in enforced change. Change management conducted in a deliberate and masterful fashion is one way of navigating this flux in the midst of uncertainty and aberrational systemic behaviors.
Some of the staggering waves of change that overcame the corporate world of work in the past two years are:
- Job losses, attrition, and unprecedented retrenchment due to shutting down of business
- Talent mobility based on the upskilling, cross-training, and skill obsolescence
- Fall from favor for certain skills, changes in job roles thanks to the rise of Artificial Intelligence
- Drastic impact on weaker sections of working professionals such as women, minorities, semi-skilled and unskilled labor
- Breaking down of support structures resulting in blurred responsibilities at home and work for employees
…while this is a nearly endless list, there are positives coming out of this particular set of changes too.
What positivity looked like thanks to effective change management
- Employees have found ways to be productive while working from home or locations far away from the so-called metropolitan quartet of India. Tier-II and tier-III cities have become active participants in the rigors of productivity, handling projects from around the globe as remote workers
- Professionals pick up on the need to upskill in a timely fashion and bring out their ability to adapt and learn – this is a whole other layer of accountability and drive.
- People-centered policies are giving way to not just fat pay packets but perks and bonuses that shower improved healthcare policies, support for financial planning, and better care opportunities for various categories of workers such as women, part-time workers, and gig workers.
- Companies offered life coaching, psychiatric support, and met medical claims with timely processing to lessen the impact of the pandemic by expediting processes.
- More companies and processes got digitized, making digital transformation nearly complete. Refinement of processes included removing bugs in the workflows and keeping ears to the ground for employee feedback.
This comparative list shows that all is not lost. Every responsible entity in the administrative and legal framework and exemplary industry leaders are coming through with workable action plans. Such an outcome has been gradual but effective, and it was only possible to give it the head-start due to inimitable change management on part of India’s leading classes.
Effective aspects of change management and leadership in India
The single point agenda of effective leadership decisions that breed lasting results is to reduce worry and fear. India Incorporate made this possible through a slew of policies that helped employees feel empowered and in control.
Mental health support: Since employees have suffered either loss of loved ones or had to keep up ongoing battles of social distancing and covid-19-related isolation and protection, they need psychological support. Young families caring for school-aged children or seniors need help in terms of flexible work arrangements and financial assistance during times of unexpected health emergencies and expenditures.
A forum for sharing: Since isolation is one of the most common fall-outs when people no longer are able to come together at places of work or home, groups formed where people can share their feelings of anxiety and fear can be extremely effective. These groups can also double up as sources of reliable information or troubleshooting for people in need as government regulations and healthcare mandates keep evolving due to the pandemic.
Boots-on-the-ground action plans: Several employers in IT, retail, manufacturing, and the government as an employer itself have risen to the occasion by providing information on testing for COVID-19, safety practices, encouraging vaccination for employees and immediate family members, and providing protective gear for frontline workers in their purview.
These effective aspects of change management are underpinned by working operational decisions – the kind that are made every day without losing sight of the end goal of welfare and continuity.
How change management came to the rescue – and created changemakers instead of victims
This live timeline of how the corporate world weathered a pandemic of such staggering proportions is a relatively simple one.
People making friends with action: To err is human. But to collect feedback, course-correct, and get better at dealing is admirable. This means more affirmative action than getting bogged down at the planning stage. People became action-oriented during this cycle of change and did not forget the hard lessons they learned. Despite the uncertainty, people drew plans, brainstormed out-of-the-box solutions, and continued to cooperate with one another. The shifting focus laid more emphasis on refining the processes that didn’t hold water and less on outcomes.
Ringing in the new: The hard-fought lessons show that change is the only constant. Change management, therefore that behavior that becomes second-nature to nearly everyone. Anyone might be called upon to give up the status-quo and embrace a whole new set of conditions. This lesson is learned well by now in terms of both company culture and review of organizational goals. The agility mindset is well and truly in place.
Realistic review and momentum: As human workers made the lessons of change lasting wisdom, they turned them into realistic pillars on which future changes can be based and executed. Looking back at past experiences helps to sustain the progress made and allows changemakers to sustain good decisions with timely maintenance and intentional forethought. It drives home what worked and what didn’t, and reminds people to keep an open mind through it all.
These steps show that the effort of change management is a live and evolving one. There is no one-size-fits-all right approach.
- 2 Strategies to Include in Your Change Management Plan|Intoo|ROBYN KERN|APRIL 28, 2021
- The Three Phases Of Change Management|Forbes Coaches Council|Mark Samuel|Jul 28, 2021
- Communications get personal: How leaders can engage employees during a return to work|McKinsey.com|David Honigmann,Ana Mendy,Joe Spratt|June 26, 2020
- How can we reassure employees who are worried about the coronavirus?|HR Q&As|SHRM|2021
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