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Strategies for managing organisational change

Posted on: June 7, 2024
Abstract businesswomen fail danger tower block Organisational Change. game building construction protect plan and project control.

Organisational change is an inevitable part of business growth and evolution. It can bring about significant improvements in business processes and systems, employee engagement, overall performance and profitability more generally.

However, it can also be a difficult time for employees – especially those who struggle with change – so it’s important to understand the challenges involved, as well as the strategies that can support leaders to manage this change effectively.

What is organisational change?

Organisational change is any kind of significant change programme within an organisation. This can mean new processes, strategies, structures, procedures, workflows, technologies, or major changes to the company culture. Typically, organisational change involves redefining a company’s goals, restructuring its teams, introducing new technologies, or shifting values.

The common denominator in all of these change programmes is that they rely heavily on changing people’s behaviours. Whether it’s a new reporting line, a new platform, or a new way of doing business, change needs the backing of an organisation’s people if it’s going to be successful. 

How organisational change can impact teams and employees

Organisational change of any kind can significantly impact work environments, affecting everything from team dynamics to individual employees’ motivation and engagement within the organisation.

For example, a new team structure might leave team members feeling unsettled and uncertain, and this can have a knock-on effect on their job performance – especially if they don’t understand why the changes are necessary.

“During times of uncertainty, people experiencing change want a clear view of the path ahead. It’s important to share what you know – including what’s changing, when, and how,” explains a change management article in the Harvard Business Review. “But for most change initiatives, it is also helpful to start with a narrative or story that clearly articulates the “big picture” – why change is important and how it will positively affect the organisation long-term. This should serve as the foundation for how you communicate about the change moving forward.”

The importance of motivating team members during organisational change

It’s clear that employee engagement and buy-in are critical during periods of change. Team leaders can, of course, empower their teams by setting clear, achievable goals, granting the autonomy necessary to get things done, and recognising hard work. Incentives and perks also play a role in extrinsic motivation. 

But fostering intrinsic motivation can lead to more sustainable – and successful – employee satisfaction and performance. 

“In today’s constantly changing and competitive environment, it is vitally important to organisations that their employees are motivated to work hard and use their talents and abilities to make the best contribution they can to the work of the organisation,” explains the Chartered Management Institute (CMI). “Passive or disengaged employees are likely to do the minimum they feel is acceptable and unlikely to give employers the benefit of any discretionary efforts. They may even become toxic, acting as a negative influence on others and damaging constructive working relationships.”

How to effectively lead teams through organisational change

Leading a team through change requires more than just managerial skills. It requires careful planning and roadmaps, and it calls on leaders to inspire people towards high performance despite their new or evolving circumstances. 

Collectively, this is commonly referred to as change management. Successful change management typically requires a dedicated change management strategy, and implementing change management initiatives that challenge the status quo to help create adaptive businesses that embrace transformational change.

It sounds like a lot of responsibility to balance, but there are a few key strategies that effective team leaders can focus on during times of change.


Effective communication is always crucial, but never more so than during change programmes. In these situations, it’s imperative that all employees and key stakeholders understand the reasons for the change and the benefits it aims to bring, so a solid communication plan or communication strategy is a must.

Maintaining open lines of effective communication and conducting regular check-ins also ensure that team members feel supported. Therefore,  by keeping team members in the loop and actively involving them in the decision-making process, companies can foster a more positive attitude towards the upcoming changes.


Any change programme should involve comprehensive goal-setting, and ideally this element of the project will be a collaborative one involving employees from various areas of the organisation.

It’s important to establish clear, measurable milestones and time-bound goals and metrics that align with the company’s broader objectives and business strategy, but it’s also important that leaders create work environments where team members feel valued, understood, and empowered to speak up when needed. And if employees feel like they’ve had a voice in proposed changes – as well as their objectives and markers for success – they’re more likely to feel a sense of ownership for the change management process, tackle short-term roadblocks, and help achieve the change management plan’s goals.


Change programmes, regardless of the type of change involved, will almost always require the development of new skills, competencies, and capabilities. 

At an individual level, people may be required to learn new skills or systems, so this is a great time to offer employees professional development or mentoring opportunities. Encouraging team members to develop new skills or abilities can help support the organisation’s changing direction while also supporting people’s own career goals.

At a team level, change programmes are also a fantastic opportunity to develop stronger professional relationships through team-building activities. These activities can be used to help embed the organisation’s changes, but they can also strengthen teamwork – which is essential for a high-performing team.

And at a management level, leaders should also be developing their change management skills, whether it’s considering a new change management model or understanding a new methodology or template for change efforts.

What does a high-performing team look like?

In addition to teamwork, a high-performing team will have several key elements:

  • High employee engagement. Team members are committed, motivated, and aligned with their company’s goals.
  • Positive work environment. There’s a culture of positive feedback, professional growth, and recognition of achievements within the team.
  • Strong camaraderie. Employees work well together. They support one another and share a strong sense of togetherness.
  • Effective leadership. Teams are led by effective change managers – leaders who inspire confidence and help people reach their full potential.

Develop a reputation for effective change management

Build your knowledge in organisational development and change with the University of Sunderland’s 100% online MSc Management with HR course. This flexible master’s course has been created to give busy working professionals an opportunity to develop the skills they need to boost their career prospects while still in their current roles.

Informed by current research in the subject area, you’ll explore the organisational development processes – both external and internal – that influence the design of organisations, and take a deeper look at the evolution of organisational change.

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