Realism lays the foundation for good process

Gå til hovedinnhold Gå til navigasjon

Realism lays the foundation for good process

“Realistic goals increase the likelihood of a successful change process. This does not come from a classroom exercise,” warns Organisational Psychologist Jan Norman Bjørkmo. He calls on several thorough, well-anchored risk analyses as a starting point for transition processes.

All of us have to deal with changes. But what do employees in Norway think about management’s ability to arm the organisation for the future?

45% of the respondents in this year’s survey feel that management handles change/development well or very well, while 24% say they handle it poorly or very poorly. 34% are neutral. It is worth noting that young employees (aged under 30) in particular are those who have not stated an opinion on how management handles change.

Organisational Psychologist Jan Norman Bjørkmo of Stamina Census is not surprised that under half of respondents applaud the way their managers handle change.

“Research shows that under 50% of transition processes achieve their set objectives. This is often because the goal is too ambitious and the human factors involved in the change process are more complicated, take more time and demand more of the organisation than originally assumed,” says Bjørkmo.

His experience is that many organisations do not have adequate insight into what the changes will require of employees and managers, and therefore may get off to a false start. He does emphasise, however, that the results he refers to relate to major transitions and restructuring, and not to minor, ongoing adjustments and adaptations.

How do you feel that management handles change/development in your workplace?

 

Total

Men

Women

Very poorly

5%

5%

5%

Poorly

17%

17%

16%

Neutral

34%

35%

32%

Quite well

36%

34%

39%

Very well

9%

9%

8%

Risk analysis a key element

“Rule one for a successful transition process is a thorough risk analysis that is also established among the middle managers who know the workers,” Bjørkmo believes.

“Middle managers can help to answer very basic questions about what is realistic to achieve in the own organisation, for example. Middle managers know the local culture, and such questions can help to reveal a realistic idea of the employees’ diversity and competence. If there is a risk that the proposed changes will collide with the organisation’s culture in certain areas, it will be vital to maintain an open process with readily comprehensible reasons as to why changing the culture in these areas is justified. Trying to leapfrog over the existing organisational culture will only increase the level of conflict and reduce trust. And if there’s any one thing that’s absolutely crucial in a major change process, it’s trust.” Bjørkmo also adds a reminder that planned changes may be covered by formal legal requirements which management will need to keep track of.

“It is absolutely critical to involve the middle manager level before the goals are ultimately set. After that the elected representatives and the safety officers will have to be involved. This should be done while it is still possible to influence the conclusions,” advises Bjørkmo.

The organisational psychologist says that it’s important that middle managers believe in the process and understand the arguments. Having a middle manager who is unsure and distances themselves from their co-workers is an unfortunate situation indeed.

The middle manager has a pivotal role to play in communicating the changes and arguments. In addition, the need for contact with the manager will increase significantly when the employees realise that the change could affect them — something which increases the sense of insecurity in many employees. A distanced middle manager will only increase this insecurity and provide a breeding ground for negative rumours and resistance.

Be conscious of diversity in the local culture. Could planned changes collide with it?

-Organisational Psychologist Jan Norman Bjørkmo

Information and informal contact

There is a great need for information during a transition, far greater than in the day-to-day operation. An informational chain must be in place before changes are communicated in the organisation. It should absolutely not describe everything as rosy, but rather make sure to communicate everything honestly and often. But Bjørkmo adds that dialogue and informal contact with the immediate manager is particularly important in curbing insecurity and retaining the trust capital that’s so important in major changes.

“The need for contact with management during a transition places high demands on middle managers. They must be able to communicate the change, while the importance of good relations management is far greater than usual,” says Bjørkmo.

In many cases, the employees in an organisation believe that the middle management know far more about things than they actually do, and that they’re holding back on information. In a situation like this, it’s important for the employees to have a good dialogue with their immediate manager also on an informal level, because this helps to boost the sense of security among employees.

Bjørkmo does however emphasise that informal contact is not to be confused with private contact. It is about middle managers’ ability to see the individual employee, and that the person communicates predictably and credibly in such a way that it minimises insecurity and increases the employee’s faith in their own ability to cope with the change.

To what degree do you find that the management and staff in your workplace have sufficient skills to meet the organisation’s future opportunities and challenges?

 

Total

Men

Women

Very low

3%

3%

4%

Low

11%

12%

9%

Neutral

35%

34%

36%

Quite high

38%

38%

39%

Very high

13%

13%

13%

When faith in the management weakens

If faith in the management’s ability to safeguard the organisation’s needs for the future weakens, the employees will experience a lesser degree of organisational citizenship. During transition processes, this can manifest in declining organisational citizenship very quickly, and this in turn has a negative impact on several other factors.

Organisational citizenship is defined as the extent to which an individual identifies with the organisation's values and feels a sense of commitment to the organisation. A meta study with results from research involving over 50,000 employees shows that high organisational citizenship means lower stress, reduced absence and lower staff turnover.

In addition, the study shows that high organisational citizenship correlates with better work performance and additional role behaviours. Additional role behaviours are the extent to which employees are willing, when needed, to assume responsibilities and tasks beyond the written word of their own job description.

“So there is every reason to increase the focus on human factors when handling a transition, including preparatory efforts that consider signals from down the line, from the people who are most familiar with the workforce. An organisation cannot change unless the people in it change themselves and their way of working,” Bjørkmo concludes.

Working lives

A few years ago, outsourcing was on everyone’s lips. Now, digitalisation is the thing we believe will change our working lives.

What kinds of reasons do you believe are likely? 
(Among those who expect their own job to be lost or substantially changed within the next five years)

Digitalisation 42%

Cutbacks/downsizing 36%

Rationalisation of tasks 25%

Lack of need 18%

None of the above 18%

Outsourcing 14 %