For organizations today, change is unavoidable. Mergers, acquisitions, restructurings, technological advancements and process improvements mean change is necessary.
While some organizations are adept at planning the tactical components of change, others struggle with adopting a holistic and integrated approach. This means readying the organization for change and sustaining the change after implementation.
Two critical success factors of change management are managing conflict and communications. These factors have the potential to uplift change efforts if they are well planned and systematic. Frequently, issues with conflict management arise because of a lack of planning for conflict. The result is a reactive response filled with a series of “activities” to wrestle the conflict under control.
How is conflict management connected to communication? The two are intertwined because some organizations misunderstand that change communications isn’t just “telling” the organization about the change, it’s also about listening to how stakeholders feel about it. Corporate leaders must recognize the profound and positive impact created when the whole organization is involved in the change. They need to reach out for input and feedback to help shape the change program and cultivate support early on from the most important stakeholders. This requires thoughtful, clear and compelling communications.
To help drive greater integration, organizations need to invest some time upfront during the readying phase to better understand the potential pitfalls to be faced. This will help inform a conflict-management approach as well as shape a communications strategy. Change programs work when each component is considered part of the larger objective. When this happens, the foundation is laid for a holistic, integrated approach with success to follow.
The topic of this article by Jordan Berman is inspired by the curriculum for the Schulich ExecEd program Managing Change, Conflict and Communications: A Manager’s Tool Kit (Feb. 24-26, 2020) which he facilitates.