Organizational change is inevitable in businesses today; the question is how do individuals not only endure but thrive in such an atmosphere? As one of our webinar speakers, Cathy Glover, Director of Community Investment at Suncor, points out, implementing any major organizational change is like “building the car while it is still driving,” – clearly a significant challenge for any individual. The Center recognized this challenge as a common one for members and wanted to highlight two individuals who have learned from a transitional phase firsthand in our most recent webinar, Preparing for organizational change: A professional development guide. Along with Cathy Glover, Rosemary Matzl, Director of Community Relations at Illinois Tool Works, also spoke candidly about her experiences and learning related to corporate change.
Suncor recently went through a merger with Petro-Canada resulting in major changes for every employee in both organizations. However, many of these employees didn’t learn of the merger through internal communications. Cathy heard it on the radio on her way to work. This demonstrates that change can happen very quickly and it is up to us to adapt. Cathy did just that. She first communicated to all of her grant recipients to make them aware and to also assure them that there was not going to be any immediate change with their relationship. She highlights the importance of keeping communications open and staying transparent. Cathy and her team then looked at the big picture and came up with a 100-day plan. She now recognizes that this process was actually an incredible opportunity that allowed her team to closely evaluate the core of their current programs and operations, and strategically redesign their department so that it was in-line with Suncor and Petro-Canada’s values and core business activities.
At Illinois Tool Works, Rosemary has the opportunity to work in a different environment where mergers/acquisitions and product diversification are more regular happenings. There is constant change with a highly decentralized culture, which creates a great deal of uncertainty but opportunity as well. Rosemary uses this constant change to her advantage by fostering a team that is able to stay flexible, foresee changes and their ramifications, and come up with quick solutions. As a result, ITW’s Community Relations efforts add to the company’s competitive advantage and speak to the different markets and products that the company encompasses. This allows ITW to better cater to all stakeholder groups.
Cathy and Rosemary’s stories and journeys spoke overall to how organizational change can be good for the department and company as a whole, but they also wanted to point out a few key takeaways for an individual:
- Know your peers, get involved with networks in the industry and within your company, and optimize these relationships. Learn from one another.
- Get HR involved when possible to help with employee awareness of the company culture and philosophy surrounding corporate citizenship (i.e. during the on-boarding process).
- Get a seat at the table. Make sure you are involved with important strategy discussions and that you demonstrate your credibility to the company.
- Do some proactive forecasting to help with the transition.
- Be patient with yourself and try to be aware of your own state of mind and behaviors. Keep morale up.
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