It is a cliché to say ‘The only constant is change’ but nothing could be truer, particularly in workplaces across a diversity of industries and environments.

How we manage those changes in our work environment is the most important facet of successful organisations. We recognise that little else is as upsetting to people as a significant change to the area in which they work and changed circumstances as to what is expected of them.

Nothing has greater potential to cause angst; sadness lost production, or diminished performance. Yet nothing is as important to the long term survival of organisations as change. History is full of examples of organisations that failed to change and that are now extinct. So the secret to successfully managing change is communication, clarity and understanding. But nothing could be truer, particularly in workplaces across a diversity of industries and environments.

Resistance to change comes from a fear of the unknown or an expectation of loss. The front end of an individual's resistance to change is how they perceive the change. The back end is how well equipped they are to deal with the change.


Involve people at all levels. Top-down change can be powerful and dramatic but not always the most effective. Create opportunities for people to get involved, step up, and be a part of what’s next instead of having it simply happen to them. Let them help lead the way forward.

Role of the Manager During Change

The role of a manager or supervisor during periods of significant organisational change can be extremely challenging. The performance of the team and the achievement of expected work outcomes need to be maintained while change is being implemented, although it inevitably has an impact on staff. It is critical that managers are aware of how to manage these situations effectively and the following tips may provide some useful ideas.

  • Make clear statements about the change, the reasons for the change, the likely impact of the change, and what support is being offered through the change period.
  • Clarify the desired outcomes of this change; the new goals and targets which are being set.
  • Assist in re-establishing individual and teamwork goals at a realistic level. Acknowledge there may be an initial impact on performance but explain this needs to be balanced with an expectation to refocus and move forward.
  • Review workloads and priorities and consider if and how these need to be adjusted during the change period.
  • Monitor work performance (your own as well) and provide rapid, factual feedback so that people can assess their own progress through the change period.
  • Offer work focussed counselling or support for staff experiencing particular difficulties with the change.
  • Encourage the development of support networks. Be a role model for encouraging constructive discussion of the change and its impact.
  • Develop a set of team principles for working together during periods of change and pressure.
  • Look at what aspects of work are in fact “business as usual” which can provide a base of
  • the known and familiar while other things change.
  • Review resources and their allocation to ensure optimal usage during the change period.
  • Create formal ways to encourage the team and organisational problem solving during the
  • Promote involvement and ownership of the change through participation in any consultation process.
  • Formalise ways of handling conflict arising from either the effects of the change itself or differing perceptions and opinions about the change.


There will always be a new trendy change model that comes and goes, but at the end of the day deep, meaningful conversations is the only way to create fast, dramatic and powerful change in today’s organisations.

Managing Performance During Change

In times of rapid and sudden change managers are required to manage simultaneously the performance of staff and the process of radical change. We expect performance standards and normal workloads will be achieved, despite the impact impending change will have on staff.

Therefore managers and supervisors need to understand how to manage the change process and the impact on themselves and their team.

When major organisational change occurs:

  1. Recognise that there will be an impact on individuals and the work team.
  • Productivity will be affected; positive interpersonal behaviour may be eroded. Allowances must be made for this impact.
  • Staff may have different perceptions of the same event and different levels of readiness to accept change.
  1. Keep yourself as informed as possible about the change process, particularly the reasons for change, the cost/savings, the strategic plans and the timeframe for the process.
  • Staff will be readier to move through transition if they understand the rationale behind the changes.
  1. Tell the staff as much as you know and what to expect. If sudden changes are to take place, inform the relevant staff privately.
  • Ensure that time is spent on questions/answers and staff reactions. Time should be allowed for mourning the losses (perceived and real). If positions are lost ensure that remaining workload is evenly distributed.
  1. Involve staff in the change process and consult with them. If resources are limited involve staff in creative problem solving and brainstorming to prevent further problems occurring.
  2. Maintain and increase good people management practices, particularly:
  • Regular communication processes
  • Regular monitoring of staff and their performance
  • Keeping a positive and enthusiastic approach to the change.
  1. Regularly monitor the progress of the acceptance of change, workload balance and process and intervene if work performance declines markedly. Document the change process and strategies.
  • Structured management with clear job roles and expectations
  • Focus more on short term goals.
  1. Monitor your own stress levels. Leadership is critical in times of change. Your moods and behaviours will become a barometer for staff to assess how positive things are in the organisation. Model the standard of behaviour you expect from staff.