5 tips to aid in managing change in the workplace

Published by Nick Murphy on

Managing change in the workplace: 5 tips for effective organisational change

Table of contents

The key to managing change in the workplace is understanding why you want to effect change in the first place. There are plenty of reasons why workplace change might be necessary for your organisation but understanding your goals is the best first step. 

For example, there might be changes to regulations in your field, such as the need for new compliance-driven behaviours to be introduced. Therefore, your workforce needs to be kept up-to-date. 

Or, team leaders might have noticed a negative culture or behavioural impact in their teams. This means a loss of productivity, engagement in their roles, and motivation to complete tasks. Overall, this behaviour would negatively impact your employees and your business.  Either way, the first step to effective change is understanding exactly why change needs to happen for your business.

It’s important to note that there is always a human element to managing change in the workplace. The best change programmes utilize behavioural science to understand their workforce, and learn how to encourage real and effective change among employees. 

Understanding change

One of the first steps to understanding change, is understanding what drives it. There are varied theories on this matter. However, one of the most systematic theories for behaviour change is the COM-B model by Susan Michie:

  • C = Capability
  • O = Opportunity
  • M = Motivation

According to the COM-B model for behaviour change, capability, opportunity, and motivation are the three main drivers of change. Each of these can be applied to further understand your employees, and effectively manage change in the workplace. 

For example, capability refers to whether an employee has the skills and knowledge to engage in the desired behaviour. In this case, training may help to boost the employees’ confidence, and provide new methods for achieving the desired change. 

Opportunity refers to external factors that make change possible. For example, if looking to improve workplace culture and communication, team building exercises or group activities would provide the opportunity. 

Motivation is often down to the individual. Each employee is different, and will have different reasons for behaving the way that they do. For example, one employee may be motivated by KPI’s and targets within their role. Another may be driven by promotion, or money. This is not to say that any of these motivators are wrong. However, it can take time to understand your workforce’s motivation, due to their individuality. It’s important to understand how to turn behavioural change into something an entire workforce wants to work towards.

abstract digital change management map with hand interacting

Set clear goals

Now that you understand how change occurs, and how you might implement a change programme, you need to identify the problem. 

Goals are important to drive change, and are also useful as a measurement of success further down the line. Your goals should be clear, and specify a time frame. Consider using SMART goals to define the target of your change in the workplace. 

  • S = Specific
  • M = Measurable
  • A = Achievable
  • R = Relevant
  • T = Timely

An example of a smart goal might be: “I want to improve employee retention and workplace culture by halving staff turnover in the next 12 months. I will achieve this by offering training courses to at least 50% of staff.” This goal explains the specifics, how it will be measured, is achievable, relevant to the improvement of the business, and has a set time frame. 

A SMART goal should help to maintain a clear direction, and ensure that goals are achievable. As mentioned, motivation is a key driving factor for change. If your employees can’t see the benefit, or how the change is possible, then motivation is likely to dwindle. 

Select a handful of goals to begin with, for your change programme. Managing change in the workplace is challenging enough, without overloading your workforce. Identify which goals are likely to have the largest impact, with the least amount of effort.

Communicate expectations

Now that you have a set of clearly defined goals, you need to communicate them to your employees. 

Ensure that the goals are as simple as possible, and communicate your expectations. You should discuss the expected time frame for the behavioural change. Provide your employees with something to work towards, and an achievable time frame should increase their motivation. 

It’s just as important to discuss the benefits of the change. Open and clear communication is key in any workplace. However, it’s even more important for managing change in the workplace. You cannot expect employees to strive for something they don’t understand, or see the benefit of. 

Consider taking the time to provide group sessions around change, especially larger programmes of change. Give everyone an opportunity to ask questions, and further, understand your expectations. Organisation-wide clarity is far more likely to lead to success.


Depending on the required change, training may be necessary. This addresses the “capability” element of the COM-B model for behaviour change. 

It’s key to provide your employees with all the tools that they need to carry out your desired change. Provide them with every available opportunity to react positively. 

If your workplace change has come about because of regulation changes in your field, run training sessions on those changes. Or, perhaps there’s a behavioural issue, and individual training may be required. 

In both of these cases, training needs to be engaging and effective. Consider utilizing training time efficiently. Digital experiences offer scenario-based learning. Employees can benefit from learning by doing – rather than theory-based training. These experiences can be tailored to the industry, or the individual, depending on requirements. 

Some of the most effective digital experiences for managing change in the workplace also feature elements of gamification. Gamification helps to address the “motivation” element of the COM-B model. Rewards and recognition are offered for improved progress and performance. Therefore, your employees not only retain more information, but they also experience a sense of gratification.

Measure success

Finally, it’s important to have a method for measuring the success of your workplace change programme. This is why SMART goals are an effective tool for change management. 

Your SMART goal should have specified an expected timeframe for your goal. It should also have identified how progress will be measured.

For example, understanding of regulatory changes could be measured through performance measuring tools or the progression metrics on digital experiences. 

Change in behaviour may be measured by assessing the success of KPI’s, or individual interviews with employees to discuss how successful they feel change has been. 

Measuring success of workplace change allows for a further understanding of the next steps. For example, successful change might help you to adapt future change programmes based on what worked. Where change didn’t occur, you should learn where your programme was ineffective. Ultimately, success metrics improve your future change efforts in the workplace.

At BAD, we understand the challenges of managing change in the workplace. Therefore, we build effective training experiences for digital learning. Our digital experiences, apps and platforms can be tailored to your requirements, to encourage maximum retention. Get in touch today to see how we can implement real change in your organisation.

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