<i>Dear Workforce</i> How Do We Eliminate Special Privileges After New Ownership Takes the Reins of Our Company?

October 31, 2003
Dear Worried:

The business owner faces a classic issue of change management: how does one effectively evaluate the employee based on compatibility with the future state of the organization? Assuming that the new policies are linked to what the organization needs to do strategically or to manage economics, the owner must make a decision with the employee.
In many change programs, the first step is to take an honest look at your employees and break them into three categories. The first are those employees that already understand the change effort and are advocates. Praise these employees publicly, support them as needed, and get out of their way.
The second group is those who will never get there. They resist change at every opportunity and may sabotage change efforts. They are tied and dedicated to the past. These are not bad people, just no longer compatible with the organization. Unfortunately, too many managers spend way too much time trying to convert them to the new program. The effort is a waste and represents a gigantic "opportunity cost."
The third category is, as one former colleague used to label them, the "moveable middle." They are on the fence, not sure if they can or will buy in to the new program. This is the audience an owner or manager must spend most of his time and energy addressing. They can be swayed with the right leadership and if you only capture a fraction of them, you have a critical mass--when combined with the first population--to get to a meaningful place and implement your program.
If the manager, after engaging this problem employee and analyzing her situation, concludes that she falls in the second bucket, then the answer is to find a way to gracefully exit her from the company. Given that she is well networked into the organization, her colleagues, many of whom may be in the first or third category, will be watching how she is managed. Find a way to praise her past efforts and exit her professionally and with grace. Other employees will respect this.
If she falls in the third category, invest in trying to convert her by explaining the need for the new changes in policy. Explain that to continue making the company great, her leadership in helping implement these policies will be critical. Ask her to demonstrate sacrifice for the greater good of the organization. Ask her to help forming a new heritage at the company.
Above all, in many change management cases like this, indecision can kill the program. Quickly evaluate which camp this employee falls in and either exit her with class or invest in ways to get her in the first category of change champions.
SOURCE:Matthew Levin, organizational development consultant, Chicago, Illinois, Jan. 16, 2003.
LEARN MORE:The Human Side of Mergers.
The information contained in this article is intended to provide useful information on the topic covered, but should not be construed as legal advice or a legal opinion. Also remember that state laws may differ from the federal law.
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