Managing Emotional Reactions to Organizational Change
Kate Sikerbol, Queen’s IRC Facilitator, 2015
Can you recall a time when you experienced a major change in your organization? Perhaps like others around you, you experienced a roller coaster of emotions: excitement that at long last something was going to happen to change the status quo, confusion about the specifics of the intended changes, and anxiety about what it could mean for you, your team, and even your family. Change can be disruptive, both professionally and personally. Change can affect the nature of our work, where we work, when we work, how we make decisions, and how we communicate. Change can impact our identity, our sense of belonging, and our relationships with coworkers, clients, and customers.
Emotional reactions to change are a normal reaction to the real and perceived disruption that accompanies organizational change. Successful change leaders know that understanding and addressing the mixed emotions that employees may experience can help employees feel motivated and committed to achieving their goals, implementing change, and realizing a new vision for the organization.
Emotions are psychological and biological responses that affect our minds, our bodies, and our motivation. Emotions colour our perception of events and influence how we make sense of the world around us. Emotions are useful. They help us evaluate the significance of events and assess the consequences. If people assess the consequences as beneficial, positive emotions result. If the consequences are perceived as potentially harmful, negative emotions may result. Barbara Fredrickson’s research on emotions helps us understand and appreciate the role of emotions. Negative emotions such as fear and anger narrow our focus, and limit how well we are able to be creative, interact with others, deal with complexity, and take risks. Positive emotions broaden our focus and enable us to interact with others, experiment with new things, and be creative.
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The Importance of Communication for Effective Change Management: A Case Study About the ‘Made in Cogeco’ Change Model
Erin O’Flynn, Director, Human Resources, Ontario Division, Cogeco Cable Canada, 2015
Working in the telecommunications industry, people assume that we are ahead of the curve in terms of change initiatives and communication practises. But similar to other companies, we are challenged to come up with our own change management processes within our organization. Our industry is changing rapidly, and that means we need to change too. In this article, I will share how Cogeco developed a new change model quite quickly to respond rapidly and succinctly to the transformational trends in our industry.
Cogeco Cable Canada is a telecommunications company that operates in Ontario and Quebec, and provides residential and commercial customers with phone, internet and cable services. In fiscal year 2015, we created a “Made in Cogeco” solution in response to the need to enhance service, stay competitive and cut costs. There were 3 key factors that helped us toward this goal. The first decision was to hire a Director, Communications and Change Management based in Montreal. Shortly thereafter, we hired a Senior Advisor, Change Management located in our Burlington office. Lastly, the Organizational Development staff was provided with enhanced skill development to become specialized change agents. The result was that the HR department, utilizing this specialized change team was able to create the “Made in Cogeco” change management model.
Developing the Made in Cogeco Model
Applying some of the important principles found in many of the courses at Queen’s IRC such as Change Management and Designing Change, we selected a large project that would impact our business in Quebec and Ontario, and that could be phased in to pilot our approach. Our vision was to transform how we do business in our call centre and with our field technicians, by increasing first call resolution for our customers and enhance their overall customer experience. Customer service has always been a point of differentiation for our customers at Cogeco. We were therefore looking for a new way to enhance that service.
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