Individual adaptability to constant organisational changes

Increasing competition, globalization, hi-tech changes, financial disruption, changing workforce demographics, and other factors are forcing organisations to change faster and differently than ever before.

The ability to adapt is inherently one of the most captivating capability of any living being, more so humans.  It defines life in all its forms, and how the world continues to function in every state, varying environment, century after century. Nothing is ever the same, so those in it adapt to survive. This is no different from changes in organisations, and the ability to adapt has become ever so urgent and critical to survival.

To start understand and building literature around how humans, adapt to change in all environments, particularly in the workplace – we have to unpack some insights from learners and researchers of the human brain and allow for some influence from a neurological perspective on organisational change models and approaches.

Your Brain: Component of Organisational Change

“The human brain has been shaped over millions of years of sequential adaptation in response to ever-changing environmental demands. Over time, brains grew in size and complexity; old structures were conserved, and new structures emerged. As we evolved into social beings, our brains became incredibly sensitive to our social worlds.

This mixture of conservation, adaptation, and innovation has resulted in an amazingly complex brain, capable of everything from monitoring respiration to creating culture. This added complexity came with a cost. Not only do all of these systems have to develop and interconnect, but they also have to stay balanced and properly integrated for optimal performance” (Louis Cozolino)

There various change models, approaches and best practices available that have been used across various change initiatives globally. These allow for a series of functions and activities that add to the continuation of a valid and reliable change initiative, and if done well – outcome. Change Practioners also know that there is no one perfect methodology, we spend time redefining some elements of each methodology or combining relevant activities from different methodologies to find that sweet spot.

With that in mind, and understanding that the brain is a social organ, there are three components of the change process that we recommend, that can complement the approaches used by practitioners in influencing brain adaptability when faced with organisational change.

Three components of the change process are as follows:

  1. Constant organisational preparedness: change is always positive and well contributed by the pre-informed employee.

In general, the more prepared organisations are before a change, the more likely it is that both individuals and organisations will be able to demonstrate resiliency. By adequately preparing ourselves and our organisations, we greatly increase the likelihood that we will be able to continue to function. This presents a challenge for most organisations, as it requires the type of openness and honesty sometimes kept at the top and redefined for dissemination. In the 21st century, organisations have to be willing to be challenged, to be wrong – and to partner with their employees at a strategic level than ever before. This is NOT sending out some communiques or having a townhall – its inclusivity that is scary and exciting at the same time for organisations!

  • An apparent need to “create a developing platform”: meant to motivate employee via implied motivation triggers.

The need to create activities at work that can trigger a series of outstanding and positive response among the employees. It can motivate employees to change positively, making them ready to accept change since they have been part of the change decision making process. In an internal organisational environment, developing or creating change platform is making sure that the employee is motivated towards meeting their organisation’s goals, as such; their motives towards change will not only create an overwhelming desire for change but also increase ease of working.

  1. Leading the change from the bottom of the organisation: many individuals are readily and actively involved in change and communicate with others.

Similarly, driving change from the bottom can trigger mixed reactions, especially from the low tier employee; in most cases, they are not considered in the decision-making process. It inspires them to valuables needs and demands to better navigate the organisation’s social world. These include certainty, status, relatedness, fairness, and autonomy, the foundation of the SCARF Model. If out of synch, these five components have always seen to have positive studies to activate the same positivity actuated by emotional and psychological motives, like happiness.

This does not in any way diminish the role of leadership in driving change – however, the brain, being a social organ and requiring stimulation and connection to survive and thrive requires supportive relationships to stimulated positive emotions.

Most of these ideas have a positive influence in the field of neuroscience, and subsequently to business and change success. More importantly, they are ideas that we can use to start building key literature to human adaptability in the workplace, particularly to constant change.

Keeping all the above factors on the check, let’s come up with an idea we haven’t explored before. There is a need to think about change differently.

  • As a start, we need to think about human resources differently, not as merchandise to be pushed and thrown around but as a source of robust and real competitive advantage.
  • The next step is not to see change as a perpetual crisis, but as a chance to better equip and prepare organisational shakeups as a standard/usual mart of the organisation, and as an opportunity to grow and develop personally and professionally.

We agree that one source of insight towards organisational change may be the field of neuroscience. The study of the brain will help deliver primary insights that can be used in the real world and, perhaps, increase people’s understanding of better ways to manage human resources and performance through creative methodologies. With the right mindset and resources, the above initiatives will not only change the organisational change process but also offer real-time change experience.

This is the first article of the ADAPT series.

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