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Employers –Managing Change With Respect

By Sonya Buck, Australia


“There is nothing more constant than change”—Heraclitus 535BC. 


We’ve all belonged to workplaces that restructure at least once in a while, but now you are in charge, leading and implementing change is part of your role.


Successful change management can’t be underestimated, particularly when it involves changes for employees which can lead to loss of job satisfaction and therefore, productivity.  Change management is so important it forms part of Tertiary Education subjects, Short Business Courses and is the subject of many books.


Assuming your restructure plans are sound and comprehensive, your next step will involve personnel issues.  If you have a Human Resources department it will be their role to lead and support during the impacts of the change. 


Communication is key this will involve not only conveying the changes, but selling them to the employees.  If you don’t have buy in, the changes will be difficult to implement.


Just some of the steps involved for you and the HR team for employees may include:


  • Clearly and simply sharing the plan with staff including the timeline
  • Laying out the benefits of the change
  • Communicating any training or upskilling to take place
  • Advising new or revised position descriptions


Should the restructure involve staff leaving the organisation (voluntarily or otherwise), you must ensure you have adequately planned for this.  Departing staff welfare is important.  These employees may worked hard to contribute to the organisation thus far, so they should be treated with honesty, respect and dignity.  On the practical side, they may require outplacement support and Government assistance information.


Be aware that people’s jobs may contribute significantly to their financial security, identity, sense of purpose, self-confidence and professional development. Changes that affect their roles may have a big professional and personal impact.  You’ll need to schedule a time to see each staff member involved in the change and keep your office door open for your employees after the announcement.


In my career I’ve seen some well managed restructures and some atrocious ones.  Employees being gathered together and told “anyone not in this room, no longer works here” was quite a shock very early in my work life.   


As you climb up the management ladder, your time might be consumed business strategy, company objectives and financial management, but remember the golden rule in all your dealings “Treat others how you wish to be treated” and you’re bound to be successful in both our professional and personal dealings.