Managing change in the workplace

In this post Cheryl Bennett guides us through managing change in the workplace. Cheryl specialises in organisational and people development. Her areas of expertise include culture change programmes, management training, executive coaching, team building and psychometric assessment.

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Food businesses are constantly going through change, whether it’s adopting a new shift pattern, introducing new technology or implementing new working practices.

Someone once likened bringing about change in business as the same as boiling a frog: there are two ways to do it. The first is to drop the frog into a pan of cold water and turn the heat up very slowly until the frog falls asleep and before he knows it he’s been boiled: it takes a long time but he doesn’t notice it too much. Or the second way is to throw the frog into a pan of boiling water: it’s really painful but at least it’s over quickly!  To be honest I don’t find either approach particularly appealing!

So how do bring about change in the workplace without it being too painful or taking too long? Is there a failsafe methodology? I for one think there is. The method involves three steps:

  1. Examine the benefits
  2. Communicate and drive the change through
  3. Embed the change, monitor and review success.

So, let’s look at how this works in practice:

  1. Decide if the change will bring enough benefits

This stage needs some analysis. Recognise that there will be some resistance so examine both the benefits and the barriers to success using a methodology such as Kurt Lewin’s force-field analysis.

This will help you evaluate the potential rewards and establish how tough the change will be to carry through. Ensure you consider all aspect of the business that might be affected from strategy, to systems to the skillset and number of staff.  It helps if you use a team from different parts of the business to do this element as this will provide a breadth of thinking.

If this stage shows the barriers far outweigh the benefits then you should challenge the need for change.

  1. Communicate and drive the change through

To communicate sounds easy enough doesn’t it?  However, if there is one thing that people complain about in organisations it’s ‘not being told anything’!  You can never over-communicate!

Create a team to initiate and communicate the change, find people who will benefit from the change and using the information gathered in step one, bring them on-board and ensure they will be ambassadors for the change. This is the time to sell the benefits and create a groundswell for change.

Using this ‘change team’ create a plan of action which includes:

  • Steps for the change: What is the right order for activities? Will it happen in one area first? What are the deadlines and milestones?
  • Responsibilities: who will do what, when and where? What does success look like? When and how will the team communicate with each other?
  • Channels through which communication will be driven: from briefings, notices, posters, newsletters, meetings and training sessions. Agree the form of words and clear messages to be used. Ensure that those affected directly have clear information and support from line management.
  1. Embed the change, monitor and review success.

As progress is being made ensure that success is publicised.  Any ‘quick wins’ should be celebrated and made known throughout the organisation. Ensure the barriers to success identified in stage one are reviewed and have been overcome.

When things go wrong, review and learn from the mistake and put corrective action in place.  Continually review and reward where success happens. Keep communicating and reinforcing the change where possible until the change becomes the norm.

And remember, as the Greek philosopher Heraclitus said: “Change is the only constant.”
To book your place visit: or contact Jilly Wallis on 01400 664321 or email

If you’d like to take your staff through change management training contact Cheryl Bennett at

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