Before change occurs, a pro-active step is the formation of a transition team headed by a transition manager to direct the process of change. Their responsibilities include developing and communicating transition best-practices as well as executing the day-to-day transition activities. The transition team should include people from HR; department managers and supervisors. It is important that the appointed people are committed to the transition process, and therefore understand the strategic implementation goals of the transition, the time frame needed to achieve the goals and how to quantify and measure success.
Every integration process is unique. Studies on large changes such as mergers and acquisitions state that merged organizations go through a series of phases during the change process. The phases can be directed and managed, especially in the case of mergers and acquisitions. Every organization experiences change differently, hence, the general phases of transition are:
- Phase 1: Pre-transition
- Phase 2: Change
- Phase 3: Integration
- Phase 4: Evolution
- Phase 5: Solidification
The following article will discuss the first two phases in transition.
Phase 1: Pre-Transition
The first phase involves planning for the change. The main concern is to identify the reasons for the change. There is no direct impact to employees as only top management, the CEO, Shareholders, the Board, HR, and the transition team are involved. The focus at this phase is to establish a firm organizational structure, a management process and the appointment of a strong, strategic and focused leader who will ensure the change is a success.
Activities during the pre-transition are:
- Identify the reasons for the transition;
- Discussion and assessment of risks and resources;
- Formation of the transition team leader;
- Planning of the change process;
- Discussion of any unforeseen challenges that will affect the company;
- Discussion of how to align the HR practices with the goals and objectives of the new organization;
- Discussion of objectives (the long-range, mid-term; short terms goals)
- Assessment of corporate culture and talents before the actual transition
- HR activities at this phase will include:
- Assessment of company culture and the effects of change;
- Development of a communication plan for the employees to explain and deal with questions and unplanned issues during the transition process;
- Creation of best practices for learning and knowledge transfer; and
- Creation of a change management process to deal with stress-related integration such as employee negativity, stress, anger, or depression.
Phase 2: The Change
The time of the actual change is preceded with an announcement about the transition to employees. The communiqué should be made at the earliest possible opportunity. Communication from top management needs to be crafted with care; reassuring employees that information will be communicated to them regularly. Clear and frequent communication will prevent rumours from circulating affecting the morale of the employees. Use every communication resource available such as the company web portal, blogs, email, and newsletters to communicate with employees, customers, investors and other stakeholders with the following messages:
- how the change will impact them, the vision of the change, the timeline to achieve the vision
- mutually beneficial reasons for the change
- risks expected from the change, the mitigation plans to lessen the risks, weekly implementation plan
- employee questions will be answered (though sometimes supervisors/managers may have to consult someone else before responding)
- roles and responsibilities of each individual for the change success
Not every employee will welcome news of change. Foremost in their minds is job security. They will wonder if there will be any layoffs as a result of the change or whether they will be asked to relocate.
Change must also be communicated to clients and external stakeholders. It is important to tell external sources only positive information that will maintain good business relationships, therefore craft all communications carefully.
Stay logged on to BioTalent Canada to read more about the remaining phases in transition.
HR Microscope October 2014