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Organizational Development and Change Theory

written by: Misty Faucheux • edited by: Ginny Edwards • updated: 9/20/2010

Organizational development and change theory go hand in hand. You must deal with the latter to affect the first. Learn how to create a successful change theory here.

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    Bottom and Top 20 Percent

    Organizational development and change theory are very connected concepts. When implementing a change, most organizations only focus on the project management process. But, you often forget the most important part of any change theory – people react differently to change. And, you need to deal with this before it becomes a problem.

    As an organization, you need to change to adapt to changing environments and needs. This is part of your organizational development. Either you change, or you die. While you and your management team may accept this, your employees may be a different story.

    Dealing with Change Just like you hired people for their different skills and perspectives, you need to respect these as well. People deal with change differently. Generally, only 20 percent of your organization will accept change completely. They understand that something is wrong and that it needs to be fixed. These people will openly accept your theories of change.

    But, then you have another 20 percent that do not accept the change at all. In fact, they may even believe that the change is not necessary. These people do not want to work with you to effect the intended change.

    This is usually where management focuses most of their time. They are trying their hardest to get these people on board since they are the most negative about the whole process. But, this is basically relegating the remaining 60 percent of the people in your organization to deal with the change by themselves.

    Image Credit: Filomena Scalise / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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    Dealing with the Majority

    These remaining 60 percent haven’t decided whether or not the change is good. They need their management team to explain to them why this is necessary and help them through the process. If you just focus on that bottom 20 percent, you are forgetting about the majority of your organization.

    The majority of your organization may not necessarily be against the change. They just need to know why it’s necessary. So, instead of focusing on the negative sector, work with these other people. Figure out how you plan on approaching these people. You will have the choice of top down or bottom up, but that will really depend on your organizational model.

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    Putting a Plan in Action

    However you decide to begin, management must be involved, and they must embrace the change. They are the ones who are going to be leading their people through this change, and employees are going to look to them for help.

    But, don’t forget about your employees. Communicate with your team and employees throughout the entire process. Answer any questions that they may have, and take their input seriously. Employees are just as invested in this change as you are. If it doesn’t work, they may be out of a job. Fully train each employee on the change, and then do some reevaluation after the change has been implemented.