Leveraging Organizational Change for Professional Development

Changes at work can be daunting. It’s not unusual for employees to be intimidated by — and resistant to — organizational modifications. People often respond to change based on past experiences — and in many cases those past experiences have been negative.

But what if organizational change were perceived as an opportunity for improvement?

“We don't like change, and one of the reasons is because there's an opportunity to fail,” says Jennifer McClure, CEO of Unbridled Talent and DisruptHR. “It’s important to face change from the ‘what could go wrong’ standpoint — instead of believing things will go wrong — and realizing you have the skills and relationships to be able to overcome those challenges. You can make the most of change, and make it a chance for professional growth and development.”

Here are three ways you can leverage organizational change for professional opportunities.

Identify Influencers and High-Potential Candidates

Some people in an organization hold more sway than others in an organization.  A successful business change means identifying these influencers and getting them on board with change.

“Those individuals are going to be the key mobilizers of change — either change acceptance or resistance. If you can identify and invest in those people, you will have the greatest return on your investment,” says Sandeep Aujla, founder and CEO of Multilevel Leadership Consulting.

Once you know who to reach out to first, presenting employees with challenges offers them a chance to learn and adapt. And McClure notes that failure is actually a great way for employees to learn — and for you to learn what your employees are made of. “Allowing people to experience challenges gives them an opportunity to work in different areas and to learn new skills,” she says.

Include Diverse Viewpoints

Change should be pursued holistically, not just from one perspective, such as technical or skills development. “These skills will come, but change must occur in a systematic way, taking into account the psychological side of the experience of going through something new,” Aujla says. “This takes much more investment.”

McClure agrees. “Look around in your organization. Identify initiatives that are happening in — or outside of — your own department, and then find ways to become a part of that,” she says. “This will work to broaden your knowledge of the business, and help teams understand each other and learn to grow as a business.” Treating change holistically will create a diverse talent pool.

Allow Talent to Develop Organically

Candidates eager to influence company changes will assert themselves throughout the transformation process. Don’t hesitate to take advantage of their passion. “If they're looking to be progressive and learn new things, you want to help them be a part of that change,” McClure says.

Aujla recommends looking for the “three C’s” presented by candidates for professional development: “The courage to exercise curiosity and then communicate it effectively across all directions,” she says. “Employees that act curious and communicate effectively will develop into the beacons of organizational change.”