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7 Tips for Managing Change in the Workplace (and the Role of SOPs)   

7 Tips for Managing Change in the Workplace (and the Role of SOPs)

Change in the workplace is inevitable. Whether it be a change in strategy or change in a specific task, there will be times when employees are faced with shifts in their daily work. But managing change in the workplace isn’t only about reacting to external forces; it’s about embracing transformation as an opportunity to improve.   

Keep reading to discover 7 tips for managing change in the workplace. We’ll also explore how standard operating procedures (SOPs) can help improve change management and how to implement these SOPs within your organization.   

Understanding Workplace Change  

Workplace change encompasses a wide range of possibilities and new opportunities within your organization.   

While change is positive in that it keeps a company relevant and encourages innovation and growth, change can sometimes be met with resistance.  

Employees may react differently to change, experiencing a range of emotions from optimism and a positive attitude to fear and resistance. Effective understanding of workplace change involves empathizing with these perspectives and providing the necessary support and resources to help during this time of transition.  

The outcome of change within the workplace can be good or bad – and often, the implementation and communication of the change determines that outcome.  

Examples of Change in the Workplace   

Below are a few examples of change initiatives in the workplace. Keep in mind, this is not an exhaustive list – just a few examples of what you may come across within your organization.   

  • Technological change. The ever-evolving landscape of new technologies has a large impact on organizations. The latest and greatest tools and platforms are constantly shifting and revolutionizing how work is conceived, executed, and managed.   
  • Changes in market dynamics. Outside forces and changes in market dynamics, such as shifts in consumer preferences or regulatory changes, impact all businesses within the same industry. Adapting to these dynamic shifts and unexpected changes is vital for an organization to stay competitive and thrive.   
  • Employee turnover/personnel change. Whether due to voluntary resignations, retirements, or involuntary terminations, turnover reshapes team dynamics and skillsets. While new hires bring fresh perspectives and new skills, excessive turnover of team members can strain resources and disrupt workflow.   
  • Change in strategy. Whether it involves refining existing approaches, entering new markets, or completely overhauling business models, strategic change requires a reassessment of goals, resources, and competitive positioning.  
  • Organizational restructuring. Restructurings are major organizational changes, reconfiguring the fundamental elements of an organization like processes, hierarchy, company culture, or even a core mission or value. Included in organizational restructuring are mergers and acquisitions. The combining of various organizations is more than just a combining of two businesses – it’s also combining institutional knowledge, workforces, and all SOPs.  

7 Tips to Managing Change in the Workplace  

Like we mentioned, change in the workplace can be a positive experience when the implementation is clear and effective. Here are a few tips for a smooth transition and change process.   

7 Tips to Managing Change in the Workplace-bloggraphic

1. Communicate Change Effectively 

Communication is key when managing change in the workplace. If there is one takeaway from any of our tips, communication is the #1 focus when adapting successfully to any change in the workplace. Define the change, offer a clear vision, and stay transparent – employees are more likely to embrace it when they understand what’s going on and why.   

For example, if there is a significant change within an organization, we recommend having multiple points of communication to explain the impact. This can look something like this:  

  • A special meeting with managers and the executive team before the announcement is made to explain the change and potential impact.  
  • A FAQ document is created and distributed to managers prior to the announcement.  
  • A Town Hall/all employee meeting where the announcement is made to the entire organization.  
  • A smaller team leaders/employees meeting to discuss more specific impacts within each team and answer questions.  

2. Prepare for the Change   

If possible, prepare for the change within your organization. Implementing a transformational change should be a proactive process: it should require planning, open communication, and a commitment to transparency. Conduct assessments of the potential impacts of the change, from day-to-day tasks to the larger policies and processes within an organization. By finding the challenges and opportunities early on, leaders can develop strategies to mitigate risks and ensure successful change management.  

3. Provide Training and Support  

When a change takes place, an organization should equip their workforce with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to navigate this adjustment. Effective training can also help reduce fear and negative feelings about the change.   

For example, a company may be making the move to Salesforce as their CRM. With this change, an employee will need to learn the platform and how to perform daily tasks within the new environment. Training should include step-by-step instruction, meetings to review the new platform, and an opportunity for employees to get answers to any questions that come up.  

Bonus: Supplement training with SOPs to help reinforce the change and its impact. With written SOPs, employees have an accessible reference to the information they need at the time that they need it. This helps maintain clarity and consistency.  

4. Listen to Feedback  

Offer open communication with employees and listen to what they have to say. Encourage both positive and negative feedback; positive feedback will help you to learn how your employees are handling the change and reinforce the reason this decision was made, while negative feedback may find an opportunity for new ideas and growth.  

This tip is especially beneficial for people managers. Their role will be crucial to listen to and help employees through the change. It may even be helpful to create a channel for people managers to provide this feedback to change managers or senior leadership.  

5. Create a Timeline  

Create and stick to a change management plan. Organizations need to establish measurable goals and key performance indicators to ensure the change is making an impact. By establishing clear milestones and deadlines, organizations can maintain accountability, manage expectations, and ensure that all involved are aligned and working towards common goals.  

6. Prepare for Roadblocks  

Any change can come with some challenges, so it’s important to prepare for roadblocks. Think through any possibility of resistance, challenges, lack of resources, or competing priorities and create a contingency plan and mitigation strategies. Anticipating these obstacles can help change managers be proactive about concerns and overcome the barriers more quickly.  

7. Monitor and Adapt  

Once the change is set, it's time to keep an eye on how things are going and ensure the change is continuous. This means no going back to the way things were – the change was made for a reason. Change may be inevitable, but it doesn’t need to be a negative experience. Monitoring and adapting are two ways to minimize disruption and maintain positive change.  

The Role of SOPs in Managing Change  

Using Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for change management is a strategic approach that ensures transparency, consistency, and employee engagement throughout the transition process. SOPs can create clear expectations and accountability, empowering employees through the change and new way of doing things in the best way. Also, SOPs can be used as a tool to reinforce training, whether training on a new technology or a recap of a strategic organizational move.    

Benefits of SOPs in times of change include:  

  • Providing structure and consistency;  
  • Facilitating communication and coordination;  
  • And enhancing efficiency and productivity.  

To go back to our examples of change in the workplace from the beginning of this blog, below are a few examples of SOPs related to different types of major changes.  

  • Technological change. Create SOPs on how to use the new technology before a new platform is rolled out to an organization.  
  • Changes in market dynamics. SOPs on new regulatory requirements are vital for employees to have access to.  
  • Employee turnover/personnel change. Having SOPs in place for employee turnover will help smooth the transition.  
  • Change in strategy. Highlighting a change in strategy through an SOP provides a clear framework for implementing this new direction.   
  • Organizational restructuring. In a restructuring there may be a combination of two departments – having SOPs in place will help make this integration seamless.  

Implementing SOPs for Change Management  

To successfully implement SOPs for change management, you must create the SOP documentation and effectively communicate the information.

Developing and documenting SOPs   

To implement SOPs for change management, the first steps are to develop and document the entire process with the information you need.   

  • Identify key processes. When implementing SOPs for change management, these key processes will involve every aspect the change will impact, from new roles and responsibilities to updated or new processes.   
  • Define objectives. Determine the desired outcome of the SOP. Be sure to clarify the reason for this new change.   
  • Document step-by-step procedures. Clearly document the steps needed to be taken, and keep in mind the best practices when writing SOPs.   

Effective communication of SOPs   

Once the SOPs are created, it’s time to communicate the SOPs effectively. This means more than just sending out a company email – effective use of SOPs requires clear, accessible documentation understood by the employees that need to use it.   

  • Training employees on SOPs. Whether an instructor-led lesson or some type of self-directed learning, taking the time to train employees on the SOPs is vital in communicating the information effectively.  
  • Making SOPs easily accessible. It's said that within 24 hours, learners forget 70% of new information. Ensuring SOPs are accessible to all employees offers a reference for the new information.   
  • Encouraging feedback and continuous improvement. Periodically review with employees and update the SOP as needed to reflect changes in processes, technology, or regulations.  

Use Zavanta to Help Change in the Workplace Go Smoothly  

Zavanta software is your solution for comprehensive SOP management.  

Thoughtfully designed by industry experts, Zavanta offers users an easy way to create and manage SOPs – including those created for change management. Zavanta is an all-in-one solution that streamlines the entire life cycle of SOPs - from initial creation to regular updates, reviews, and implementation. With Zavanta, employees can access clear, accurate policies and procedures when they need them.  

One of our clients, a large health insurance provider, was rolling out a new claims processing software application to all their divisions. They faced a monumental challenge to meet the implementation deadline as well as manage all the changes about how thousands of employees would now do their daily work. To add to this challenge, the company had to continue to adhere to strict industry regulations. Using our system, they were able to standardize their SOPs and train all staff members. They developed over 600 SOPs in four months and met critical deadlines ahead of schedule. The rollout was a huge success.  

Contact us today to start a conversation. 


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