Managing Change—How to Navigate COVID-19 and the Changes to Come

Apr 22, 2020


By AMA Staff

Organizations face unprecedented upheaval due to the COVID-19 crisis—but its impact can also lead to a chain effect of additional crises—from dramatically different customer needs to business model shakeups to seismic market shifts. Strategies that have quickly pivoted to meet sudden drastic change will likely need to be further adjusted to address additional business fallout. How do you manage all these reverberating changes and survive?

Change management is a methodology to help you prepare and support employees to resiliently and confidently adapt to change in order to keep your organization strong. Being proactive about managing change helps reduce chaos as the change is implemented. What will change and why (the content) must first be shared. The process by which the change will occur also needs to be discussed and outlined in detail. In addition, the people who will be responsible for making sure the change comes about must be designated, along with those who will be impacted by it.

The change management process seems logical, but it can quickly become complicated by the number of people involved in the change effort. To keep change from becoming difficult to manage, a change leader must be appointed to give direction to others throughout the change process. Other key roles include the change sponsor, who initiates the change, the change agent, who must see it through, and the change target. The change target includes any employee who must actually change what they’re doing in order for the change process to be successful. In addition, change advocates are those who are actively supporting the change, but do not have actual authority to implement it.

Since all people respond differently to change, it’s also crucial to consider how to deal with change overload. This can manifest itself in many ways, including employees feeling excluded from the change process, expressing concern over unrealistic timelines, feeling overwhelmed by what they perceive as too many changes coming too quickly, poor engagement, concerns about insufficient resources, and more. Those leading change must proactively establish guidelines for dealing with change overload, and strategize new ways to gain buy-in, remove silos, communicate openly, and eliminate barriers.

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