Change Can Be Managed and Communicated Effectively in Business and at Work

As an English major graduating into a recession, I knew I was lucky to get my first permanent job as a writer.

It turned out to be a great foundation for my career, however it started out rather oddly. The organization was large, busy and filled with boisterous recent grads like myself – I was introduced to no one except the Director and my new immediate supervisor on my first day of work.  I was then instructed to sit by myself in an empty cubicle area and lay low, because I was informed on that first day of work that my predecessor had not yet left her job, and she did not know I was there to replace her.  For a week, I read various reference materials in preparation to take her job, and her cubicle. She was fired on the Friday of my first week on the job, and I officially started my new job on the following Monday.

Looking back decades later, it’s easy for anyone with any managerial sense to Monday-morning-quarterback that awkward onboarding experience.  That first onboarding experience is the equal and opposite antithesis of everything I was subsequently taught as a Human Resources practitioner.

And as I continue to discover, that HR training and experience has not only been invaluable to my own career success, it is also not a typical tool in the arsenal of many organizations, even years later.

If I were able to travel back in time and counsel the Director at my first job as his HR partner, I would at minimum ask:

  • Did my predecessor know that her performance was substandard before she was fired?
    • Were all the compliance bases covered?
  • Was it necessary to start me on the payroll before my predecessor was fired?  Could a current employee cover the workload in the interim until I was hired and onboarded?
  • What was the plan to communicate the change (e.g. her departure and my arrival) to:
    • The rest of the organization;
    • The new hire (me);
    • Our external stakeholders / customers?
  • Had someone drafted the tough questions (and answers) that both internal and external stakeholders might ask about the change?
  • Had the potential impact of the change (the firing and the hiring) on the reputation of the organization been reviewed and considered?

Even tough changes, with proper planning and consideration, can be communicated and managed effectively, in business and at work.


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