Whether you are a small business or an international conglomerate, change is an important part of your organization. Major strategic changes are rarely voluntary and usually in response to major opportunities or crises. Off course, any major changes to your business can present their own potential pitfalls.
A recent survey by Burson-Marsteller examined strategic change at companies all over the world and gives useful insights into how to effectively implement major strategic shifts in business while minimizing their inherent pitfalls.
For the purposes of the business survey, a strategic shift was defined by the following statement:
The survey also differentiated between changes brought about by internal factors or imposed externally. The main purpose of the survey was to determine how major strategic changes were dealt with in relation to both internal stakeholders and the changes in employee behavior.
483 HR executives were questioned across 10 European markets to reveal major drivers and barriers to successful change implementation.
The Pace of Change
Results reveal an increase in the pace of change across those surveyed within the past two years, largely due to current economic considerations. Changes included organizational restructuring (27%) followed by new product launches (22%) and technology upgrades (20%).
There were no indicators that the current rate of change was going to decrease in the coming years according to the responses given.
Survey results revealed that employees generally played a passive role in implementing major strategic changes, even those that affected them directly. Why? Two explanations are possible:
- Companies did not adequately involve their employees in the early stages of the process of change through a proper communication strategy
- There was a lack of engagement and interest among employees
Factors of Success
Respondents felt that key actions ensured relative success of any major strategic change initiative to come:
1. Making strategic choices in a timely manner
2. Communication of goals to interested parties
3. Setting measurable and achievable goals
4. Ensuring internal cohesion regarding changes to come
5. Employee engagement in change process
6. Explaining the strategic direction of the company
7. Taking into consideration employee concerns and following up on them
Companies that handled changes effectively were more likely to have mastered their communications strategy and implemented a detailed plan with clear goals all the while inviting active employee participation.