Any professional who wants to know how to handle attitude change in an organization will need to assess their own business before designing a solution.
Every organization, after all, is different and the reasons for an attitude change will also differ depending on the circumstances.
Here are just a few examples of the reasons why employee attitudes can change:
- An organizational change program could impact employees, the workplace, and their jobs
- The adoption of new technology can affect workflows and job duties
- External circumstances that affect the workforce, the industry, or the workplace, such as a natural disaster, can impact attitudes
- New leadership or management can affect employee engagement and morale
In short, there are many factors that could impact attitudes, so the first step towards influencing attitudes is understanding the cause of the attitude change.
Below, we’ll explore five steps that can help managers better handle attitude change in an organization.
How to Handle Attitude Change in an Organization: A 5-Step Process
Here is a five-step process that leaders and managers can follow when they experience an attitude change in their company or organization:
1. Understand the reasons for attitude change
As mentioned, the very first step towards addressing an attitude change is understanding its causes.
In some cases, the cause can be easily identified – COVID-19, for instance, had a clear impact on workplaces around the world.
Yet identifying that underlying cause is only the first step.
Next, it is crucial to examine how that cause actually impacts employee behaviors.
For instance, COVID-19 had significant and serious effects on workplaces, including:
- The adoption of remote work for enterprises around the world
- The overhaul of existing business processes
- The acceleration of digital transformation
- An increased adoption of automation tools
All of these, in turn, resulted in new ways of working, job displacement, and more.
Since the circumstances differed from workplace to workplace, the solutions must also depend on the organization’s needs.
The best way to identify the cause of an attitude change is through an analysis:
- Have discussions with employees
- Conduct employee surveys
- Analyze relevant data, such as performance data and HR analytics
This information, in turn, can lead towards a strategy and a solution.
2. Develop a strategy for changing attitudes
A strategy represents the overall approach towards solving a problem.
In this case, it should be based directly on the information collected in the first step.
Here are just a few basic examples:
- If employees are anxious about their ability to telecommute effectively, provide training and support
- If new digital tools are increasing employees’ resistance to digital transformation, streamline the adoption process with a software onboarding and training application
- If new hires are not fitting with the culture, revamp the hiring and employee onboarding process to focus on candidates that align with the company’s mission
Once the strategy has been identified and clarified, it is important to articulate that strategy concisely and clearly.
That clearly documented statement can serve as a guiding light for the next steps: planning and implementation.
3. Create an organizational change plan
Organizational change plans can be large or small and should depend on the needs of the business.
The strategy outlined in the previous step will serve as the fundamental guiding principle upon which to base an actual plan of action.
Designing a plan consists of:
- Setting overarching goals and measurable objectives
- Assigning metrics and KPIs
- Creating a roadmap for change
- Delegating teams
- Developing mechanisms for monitoring progress
An action plan, in short, will be a project roadmap that everyone can follow, from frontline workers to high-level stakeholders. It can act as a reference, help maintain accountability, improve compliance, boost performance, and more.
4. Implement and monitor the change
Once the plan has been developed, it must then be implemented and managed carefully.
Like other business projects, this means:
- Continually collecting data
- Learning from that information
- Adjusting the plan as needed
The more carefully and proactively managers lead the project, the more successful it will be.
While change management best practices are outside the scope of this article, here are a few points to keep in mind:
- Success depends on proactive involvement from leaders and managers
- Two-way communication is crucial during change projects, especially since the focus in this case is on employees, employee attitudes, and behavior
- An agile, employee-centered approach can ensure that the project stays relevant and meets expectations
Once the project has been completed, managers must perform a few final tasks.
5. Review, analyze, and reinforce
It can be tempting to reach a project’s final deadline and leave it be.
However, there are several steps that should be taken once the project has been completed:
- The project’s data should be compiled, analyzed, and learned from – this will tell managers what worked, what didn’t, and what they can do better in the future
- Compiling this information into a post-project report or analysis can provide insights that future project managers and leaders can learn from
- Changes should be reinforced over several months, if not longer, to ensure that they stick
A well-executed project, in short, must not only be managed well, it must be finished well. This means properly instituting and systematizing the changes that have been made. If necessary, it may also mean identifying issues that were not properly fixed, then designing a new strategy to address them.