The Disadvantages of Change in an Organization
Change in business is good, but it’s seldom easy and can often be expensive. Managers are often drawn to change by imagining the possibilities and positive impact it can have on their organization. Before launching an idea, however, spend a little time wrestling with the costs and disadvantages also a part of the change.
Change Might Not Equal Progress
Many companies emphasize a culture of continuous improvement. While never being satisfied with the status quo can drive excellence in your organization, there is some wisdom in the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” Mistaking change for progress is similar to the common problem of mistaking activity for productivity. Every organization can be improved, no matter how well it is performing, but a manager should always ask the question, “How is this proposed change going to improve my organization’s ability to achieve our key goals?”
Change is never free. Changing the oil in your car takes time and materials, which cost money. Changing the phone system in your building costs time, money and training. Every change also has opportunity cost; spending your equipment budget on new computers means you have to wait to upgrade the phones. And there are intangible costs such as morale and customer satisfaction during the adjustment period. Determine whether the cost of a change is outweighed by the benefit that change will create.
According to an article by organizational change expert Garrison Wynn, the top two reasons people resist change are lack of knowledge about coming changes and fear of the unknown. You can expect some level of resistance to any change, no matter how small or how much benefit it might promise. The key tools for managing this problem are complete, honest, and timely communication with your work force, clear communication of the value of the change, and patience with your team as they go through an inevitable adjustment phase.
Choosing the Wrong Solution
Organizations often initiate change because they have a problem that needs to be solved. But it’s dangerous to assume you know the root cause of a problem and implement a solution prematurely. Sometimes management doesn’t sufficiently investigate the true cause of a problem, the stakeholders affected by the solution, and potential unintended consequences of change. This approach creates all the costs of change without the intended benefit, plus it can create problems in areas that were functioning properly.
So, the take-away from this educational moment is, also think about the downsides before you make changes.