Are there any organisations that aren’t changing in some way?

Are organisations ever stable anymore?

Whether the change comes from external drivers such as Brexit or technology or internal factors such as restructuring – change is omnipresent. And maybe it’s no bad thing. We need to progress. Life would be really dull without progress and development and there’s no denying that organisations that remain static in today’s challenging marketplace simply don’t survive.

In this context what do you think is the most important element of the change to focus on?

Where should we really focus our time, attention and money?

Technological advances?

Process improvement?

Organisational structure?


What do you think will happen if we don’t put our most important asset – our people – at the forefront of our thoughts when planning our next change programme?…

Here’s what will happen if you don’t put your people first…

You’ll see sickness absence rise sharply, some of the absence cases will stray into the mental health arena. You’ll see ‘Anxiety’ and ‘Depression’ on self-certification forms, eventually confirmed by GPs.

If you measure it you’ll see a drop in productivity and if you don’t measure it you’ll get a feeling that ‘things aren’t running like they were’. People will be spending more time chatting in huddles and emailing each other in a quest for some semblance of support whilst you think they’re responding to customers.

Your organisational health check or employee survey will be significantly worse than you thought it would be and you’ll spend an inordinate amount of time running workshops around the theme of ‘How to improve morale’

You’ll see the number of ‘grievances’ rise as people use formal methods to make clear their feelings about how they’re being managed.

And you’ll see the number of ‘conduct’ disciplinary processes rise as people become less concerned about timekeeping, attendance and performance.

I wish I could put a cost to all of this for you because I know that would help to clarify your thinking, rationalize your expenditure and justify your actions at your next meeting…

I’d like to put a cost to it but I can’t.  Only you can do that for your business, but there is one thing that you can be absolutely certain of

…If you don’t put people at the top of your list when you are undergoing an organisational change programme They won’t want to work for you anymore. It’s as simple as that.

And once that mindset has been adopted its almost impossible to alter it. Like in any relationship – the trust is lost. Your talent will walk fastest. They’re already taking calls from agents, the calls that they usually ignore. They’ll meet people for coffee ‘Just for a chat’ and before you know it all that investment in your high potential people will be wasted.

I could go on but I won’t. You know the story and the outcome, you’ve probably seen it as many times as me…It can be different though.

How to manage your people through change…

Putting people first in organisational change isn’t easy, you simply can’t please all of the people all of the time. Tough business decisions need to be taken, but here are some steps that will make the people transition easier and reduce the business impact of the change.


  1. Create and communicate your plan. Explain ‘why’.
  2. Be really clear about the end goal and its benefits. Stay focused on this.
  3. Tell people how it will impact them and the work that they do.
  4. Communicate – even when you have nothing new to say, reiterate the end goal at regular intervals. Reassure.
  5. Ask for feedback, really listen and respond to it, even if it’s to say that after consideration you’re not going to act on it.
  6. Actively engage staff in change that affects them
  7. Show empathy, understanding and emotional intelligence, don’t be unsettled by emotion, its normal.
  8. Allow proper time for training and transition. Rushing people through training or just sending an email on ‘how to do it now’ won’t land well.
  9. Do all you can to make the change as smooth as possible for people.
  10. Reward acceptance and acknowledge teams and individuals who display newly required behaviours or adopt new systems early.


If you want to really look after your people help them to develop a holistic, personalised resilience plan, one tailor made for them using evidence based strategies. We use a new psychometric that does just that and is currently used by the Royal College of Psychiatrists to ensure that their clinicians remain resilient through the maelstrom of their working lives. Good enough for them, good enough for you and your most valuable asset.


Talk to me about how you can improve your team’s resilience through change

About the author: Janette Kirk Willis

‘We Are The Positive Psychology People’

The Positive Psychology People is co-founded and sponsored
by Lesley Lyle and Dan Collinson,
Directors of Positive Psychology Learning and authors of the
8-week online Happiness Course





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