Managing organizational change to minimize impact on employees, with Natalia de Martos

Company culture matters
Managing organizational change to minimize impact on employees, with Natalia de Martos
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Managing organizational change is quite delicate. Even if a change is for good, telling your employees that they would have to start doing things differently could be a great challenge. Do you want to know how to manage change successfully without affecting your employees?

Natalia de Martos, Head of HR at CARTO, talks about how they manage change in CARTO while trying to minimize any negative impact it could have on their employees. If you are also committed to taking care of your people, create a positive company culture and foster clear communication and transparency in your company, check out nailted.com/podcast. In Nailted we are here to assist managers, people and HR teams who want to deliver the best employee experience. If you want to know how Nailted can help your company, check out our home page.


Episode transcript

LAURA HERNÁNDEZ: Hi, everybody. This is Laura Hernandez, your host of company culture matters by Nailted.

LAURA HERNÁNDEZ: In this episode, we will take a look at how to manage organizational change, to minimize the impact on employees with Natalia de Martos, Head of Human Resources at Carto. 

NATALIA DE MARTOS: Does not matter if you think it is an insignificant change or a very obvious one. Don’t assume everyone will be on board. It might not be that insignificant or that obvious for a person or even for the whole team. So don’t take things for granted and start working on a plan. 

LAURA HERNÁNDEZ: Managing organizational change is quite delicate. Even if a change is good, telling your employees that they will have to start doing things differently, could be a great challenge. The main goal of change management is to implement change successfully to establish new processes or strategies while trying to minimize any negative impact it could have on the company. Human resources is in a key position when managing how changes affect our employees.

LAURA HERNÁNDEZ: Natalia de Martos, Human Resources at Carto. We are glad you’ve decided to join us in this conversation. 

NATALIA DE MARTOS: Well, thank you so much for this opportunity!

LAURA HERNÁNDEZ: Natalia, what’s the role of human resources when managing an organization?

NATALIA DE MARTOS: I believe our role when managing organizational change can vary depending on the nature of this change. But in general terms, I would say HR has a dual role, on one hand, sometimes we are the ones who initiate and lead the change. And, on the other hand, and most of the time, our role is to be an effective facilitator of changes initiated by other teams or others in the organization. And these of course are just the highlights. There are tons of different responsibilities behind them, such as paperwork, understanding the impact of the change in every part of the organization, clearly answering all the questions employees may have and the main thing here is communication because, in the end, HR should provide guidance and support to employees throughout the process.

LAURA HERNÁNDEZ: Natalia, you mentioned that understanding the importance of the impact is relevant. And I guess making our employees aware of the importance of any change is also crucial to help them understand why changes are made. So, how should we communicate it to them? 

NATALIA DE MARTOS: Well first, I would say that even if you think it is an insignificant change or a very obvious one, don’t assume everyone will be on board.

NATALIA DE MARTOS: It might not be that insignificant or that obvious for a part, or even for the whole team. So don’t take things for granted and start working on a plan. How should we communicate these kinds of changes? 

NATALIA DE MARTOS: First thing is, we need to create awareness: Employees need to understand the nature of this change. Why the change is being made and the risk of not changing. Being transparent and communicating a clear vision will help us reach a mutual understanding. So, everyone can be on the same page. And all this information, about why, should be tailored for each audience when possible. We need to take into account that the context each employee has is different depending on the area or the team they belong to. So, here we should work together with the rest of the leaders in the organization in order to bear in mind these different backgrounds. 

NATALIA DE MARTOS: And last but not least we need to communicate early and often these communications should come not only from HR but from the different leaders in the organization. So I’m going to say too many things here, but to sum up, don’t assume the employee has the context. Be clear about the why behind the change, tailor the message for each audience, and communicate early and often.

LAURA HERNÁNDEZ: As I mentioned at the beginning, changes affect people. And this is why it is so important to take our employees into consideration when managing any organizational change. Natalia, which methods could we follow to minimize the impact a change could have on our employees?

NATALIA DE MARTOS: Well, actually, it’s commonly said, change is the only constant, and this is even more real in a startup environment, organizational change is necessary for companies to succeed and grow. So we need to motivate employees to get involved in that change. Well, how do we do it? First, as we were talking earlier, we need to clearly define the change and align these teams to business goals. This way we will be providing that way to the team. Secondly, try to engage employees in the conversation as early as possible. This is something that, well, sadly can’t be done in some situations, but if it is possible, it will be really beneficial.

NATALIA DE MARTOS: The next step actually is a crucial one. We need to develop a communication strategy and be ready to communicate, not just once, but again and again, throughout the change process. Finally, my advice is to get in front of problems. One of our responsibilities as HR is to support employees throughout the process, but we need to create a safe environment where feedback can flow in every direction. As employees are going to have a lot of questions, ideas, feelings, emotions, HR should listen, respond fairly and help employees adjust to these changes. 

LAURA HERNÁNDEZ: In the end, what Human Resources is looking at is to create a positive workplace, and to fulfill that mission, employee satisfaction becomes key. Natalia, how do we enhance employee satisfaction in situations of change in a company?

NATALIA DE MARTOS: Well, when the team comes from a difficult decision and enhancing employee satisfaction can be very tough. And even if we work hard on explaining the why in detail, we need to bear in mind the difference between understanding why something needs to happen and people wanting it to happen. So, it usually happens that the employee understands the reason, but they don’t want the change to be executed. And the result here is that their morale and satisfaction are going to be affected. So, now in this context, what can we do to simply enhance your satisfaction? We need to create awareness, be clear on how this change impacts their sales, their teams, the whole company, and let them be part of this change and connect with the purpose or the goal. Also,  leaders in the organization are key in this process. Employees must see their leaders modeling change and aligned with their organization change and also with the output of it. And of course, we need to provide the employees with the processes, tools, or systems they need to make this change a reality. If they feel supported by the company their satisfaction will be less affected.

LAURA HERNÁNDEZ: When talking about ways to put our employees first, managing organizational change, the theory could be relatively easy, but when we put it in practice, several difficulties arise. Natalia, which obstacles could we encounter? And, how could we overcome it?

NATALIA DE MARTOS: Well, actually, I think there are quite a few different obstacles we can find, but I would like to focus on three. The first one: change is difficult. Very often you see change as a threat instead of an opportunity. So I would say that a primary obstacle is their individual change resistance. We can work on this by creating awareness, letting employees know why this change needs to happen, and letting them have an active role in earlier stages. 

NATALIA DE MARTOS: The second obstacle is linked to the first one. It would be a lack of transparency and a poor communication plan. HR and all the leaders in the organization should make communication a priority, make sure to set clear expectations, communicate potential timelines, and report progress. Keeping everyone on the same page here is something critical.

NATALIA DE MARTOS: The third obstacle is the lack of executive support. This can be real or just a perception the employee may have, but we need to fight this hard. These changes require a large commitment from executives and senior managers, who not only need to support it but also need to have a very active role as sponsors of the change.

LAURA HERNÁNDEZ: Natalia to continue our conversation. Will you give us some tips? Some do’s and don’ts when managing change with our employees?

NATALIA DE MARTOS: Yeah. Here are some tips; be transparent and communicate early and often don’t improvise, outline a plan in advance. Get the leaders in the organization involved. Don’t expect everyone to be happy and don’t ignore internal resistance. Involve employees in the process as early as possible. And well, in the end, organizational change is a complex process that requires time, patience, and dedication, but it is also very necessary to business success. So, embrace the change and of course help, the rest of the team do the same.

LAURA HERNÁNDEZ: Natalia, thank you so much for joining us in this conversation. It’s been a real pleasure to have you on board.

NATALIA DE MARTOS: Thank you so much.

LAURA HERNÁNDEZ: That’s it for these episodes, how to monitor organization and change to minimize the impact on employees, of Company Culture Matters by Nailted. Thank you so much, Natalia, for teaching us about the role later, when managing organizational change. If you want to learn more about Natalia, you can connect with her on LinkedIn.

LAURA HERNÁNDEZ: Also, if you want to listen to more best practices from experts on topics regarding company culture, check out nailted.com/podcast.

LAURA HERNÁNDEZ: Carto uses Nailted to act on what really matters to their people. Nailted there is the employee engagement platform for people and HR teams who want to deliver the best employee experience.

If you want to know how Nailted can help your company, check out our home page.

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