The Challenges of Change Engagement

Every time something significant changes in an organization, challenges result. Some of the challenges are personal, some evolve within work teams, and still others emerge across the organization. To successfully engage organizational change, we need to be aware of the challenges and be prepared to deal with them professionally and confidently.

Change typically generates at least some resistance. Individuals often feel that they are losing power, autonomy, or resources due to an evolving work environment. As a result, they cling to the status quo. As team members in change engagement, our role is to challenge ourselves and persuade others to lower their resistance and focus on positive outcomes.

One of the biggest challenges of change engagement is simply getting people to take change seriously. During periods of change, individuals often take a “wait and see” attitude, neither embracing nor resisting the change. Our challenge is to inspire ourselves and others to embrace change, support it, and even become champions for it.
Change often generates anxiety. Individuals are more likely to embrace a transition, and teams function more successfully, when anxiety is at a minimum. Our challenge in minimizing anxiety is to understand the plan for change, to express our level of commitment to the plan, and to recognize that the plan and our role in it will evolve during the change.
Organizational change may create breakdowns in organizational cooperation. During a transition, organizations often observe the “silo effect” between departments, functions, and work teams. This is when groups begin to function independently of departments or teams whose responsibilities overlap with theirs. Cooperation and communication are at a minimum. As participants in organizational change, we are challenged to break down those walls and build bridges of cooperation between organizational functions.
When the work environment is changing, there is typically confusion over priorities. If there is a new manager in charge, for instance, what will he or she think is the most important priority? If we are to come out of the change successfully, what should we focus on first? This challenge is met through careful and thorough planning. The key to keeping everyone engaged throughout the change process is to communicate effectively and be prepared for the challenges that change presents to organizational unity.
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