Albert Einstein once said, “Nothing happens unless something is moved.” Within organisations, movement takes place every day so that things can happen. For some people, small or large shifts may be met with fear and insecurity. For others, change and growth is a natural part of life, and in turn, business. To enable your team and organisation to move forward, a deep understanding of organisational change can help everyone feel prepared and aligned to achieve overall goals.
Organisational change is when an organisation undergoes growth, transformation, or decline. Both internal and external factors can affect and cause organisational change. For example, from an external standpoint, new technologies or incumbents in the market can call for the need to adapt processes. Or, internal managerial shifts or new employees can usher in change within a department.
Organisational change is inevitable and necessary to adapt in business environments that are constantly evolving and reshaping themselves. Organisational change management provides a framework for business managers and leaders to bring upon new change while ensuring that everyone involved feels ready and willing to accept changes and be a part of new ways of working. It consists of three main steps: preparation, implementation, and follow-through.
These days, change happens quickly. This is mostly because of the speed and spread of information and technology that has transformed the way businesses operate.
Making the choice to continue “business as usual” can mean being left in the dust. Instead, supporting a company culture that embraces and invites the right kind of change can provide you with distinct competitive advantages and better means to serve your customers.
For example, businesses that adopt automation technology are able to achieve exponential ROI because technology doesn’t have to sleep or take breaks. Once you enlist automation to carry out a process, it can scale indefinitely and without added costs. This is just one way in which being open to change and technological advancements can maximise your business’ output.
When organisational change is approached and thought of as an opportunity, the potential for growth can become limitless.
What can be considered organisational change? The answer is many different things. So, in order to better understand the concept, we can categorise organisational change into two main types:
Adaptive changes are incremental in nature and happen over time. They are the types of changes that help an organisation evolve in the long-run. These can be small shifts in the way a team runs a process, develops a product, or addresses company culture.
Rather than changing the organisation on the whole, these little shifts are implemented consistently and recuringly to overcome business challenges.
Some examples of adaptive changes include:
Managers should make sure that team members understand the bigger picture and why these changes are taking place. That way, every individual can recognise their contribution to the greater whole.
Transformational changes are larger in scope than adaptive changes. They consist of massive organisation-wide adaptations, like the way a business is structured, its physical structure, supply chain, processes, or even strategy.
Unlike adaptive changes which occur incrementally over time, transformational changes can occur rapidly and sometimes suddenly. These types of changes may happen because the business is looking to overcome a specific challenge.
Here are a few examples of transformational changes:
Transformational changes call upon managers to be forward-thinking and uninhibited. Given the dramatic nature of these types of changes, getting team members on board could be more challenging. It requires a vision, clear communication of the vision, and adequate motivation to align everyone’s interests and efforts.
Organisational change is a factor that helps to take businesses to the next level. Without managing the process, ups and downs, and challenges and opportunities that come along with change, companies may end up wasting time, money, and even run the risk of losing employees.
When people don’t have an understanding of why something is happening, they are unlikely to be invested in making it work. With lessened morale and competency comes higher rates of turnover (increased costs). That’s why leaders must be involved at every step of the way.
Speaking of leaders and their required involvement, let’s uncover how leaders can play a role in organisational change management.
In most organisations, staff members perform the hands-on work and report back to their managers. Managers will provide necessary information and updates to executives, who then share results with external stakeholders.
In order to take on risk and be open to change, leaders are at the forefront of the cause. It’s their role to get buy-in from internal and external individuals to make a change happen. Managers play the role of executing the change - outlining budgets, providing plans, allocating resources, and measuring success.
Everyone has a lot on their plate at work. To make the process of managing change seamless, your organisation can benefit from automation solutions. While automation solutions are a source of organisational change in and of themselves, they also provide a level of oversight and can reduce tedious manual labor in monitoring changes to processes so staff can do more high value tasks. Automation also connects to all data systems, giving greater transparency and deeper insights across the business.
Preparation is key in organisational change. While not all alterations are going to be known, they can be anticipated. Leaders can create a company culture in which change is considered exciting and good rather than scary and anxiety-laden.
To be ready for any type of organisational change, consider following these steps:
Consider that your company wants to make the change and introduce a new automation solution to manage tedious, manual tasks. It’s not far-fetched to think that many seasoned employees may fear they’re going to lose their job and be replaced by a robot.
(Spoiler alert: this isn’t the case– organisational change management can be used to showcase and communicate how automation tools augment work and can actually free up their time to focus on high-level tasks rather than laborious and repetitive busy work).
This being said, organisational change is often met with resistance. Resistance can be classified as industrial or organisational.
Industrial reasons can include: a fear of losing income, personal reasons like a bruised ego, or fear of the unknown.
Resistance at the organisational level can look like a threat to power, or a certain business structure that is ill-prepared for adaptation, or the possibility that resources are not available to bring about the change.
Regardless of the type of resistance coming into play, it’s possible to overcome it with strong leadership, open communication, and a clear plan of action.
Organisational change will take place in any business, and it will continue to take place. By enacting organisational change management, your team can be prepared to adapt, grow, and embrace shifts at any scale, be it adaptive or transformational change.
These types of shifts are enacted for the betterment of your team and your customers. To make it easier on everyone, consider implementing an automation solution to help align your efforts. When automation tools exist at the heart of organisational change, your business benefits from adaptability, increased transparency, and the ability to monitor change as it happens so you can adjust and reiterate as needed.
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