Like death and taxes, change is inevitable. I worked in state government for 23 years and every election cycle brought change. The extent of the change varied in degrees. One Republican (or Democrat) replacing another Republican (or Democrat) as governor usually meant minor organizational adjustments to come (a tweaked organizational chart with new names and titles but not much else), but a change of party in the governor’s office portended rough seas ahead.

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Each change in administration brought a challenge. Being a mid-level administrator meant that I had no real say in what was coming, but I needed to figure out how the change affected my staff. They needed to understand what was coming and how it affected them so that they could adjust to the new ways and continue to provide high-quality services.

Change brings anxiety. Small administrative changes (new names and titles, organizational tweaks) usually didn’t affect my staff’s day-to-day work, but occasionally a tsunami hit. Big changes such as agencies or departments being dissolved or merged, in-house functions being outsourced, new computer systems, etc., created high levels of angst and lots of staff questions, such as:

  • How has this changed my job, and do I have the skills to do this new job?
  • Do I still have a job?
  • How does this affect me and my family?
  • How do these changes affect my customers?

My job through these changes was to be honest with my staff about what’s coming and help them through the transition. But the success or failure of any organizational change depends on how well the new administration planned for the change, projected its vision of what’s to come and articulated what it meant to the affected staff. My staff and I survived some successful and one disastrous organizational change. The outcomes hinged on how well the administration did its job planning and engaging the staff doing the work.

Here’s an overly simple formula for a successful organizational change:

  • The administration needs a vision of what’s to come and make workers part of the solution
  • Worker buy-in = better outcomes
  • Better outcomes = better customer experience
  • Better customer experience = reelection/more sales

If your organization needs help managing change, contact us today!