Practical Application: Organizational Change Scenarios

Instructor: Scott Tuning

Scott has been a faculty member in higher education for over 10 years. He holds an MBA in Management, an MA in counseling, and an M.Div. in Academic Biblical Studies.

Organizations are constantly changing, and while often necessary, it's not easy to embrace change. Let's explore three scenarios that illustrate how managers can help employees cope with major workplace changes.

Organizational Change

For most organizations, the failure to advance and evolve is essentially the same as going backwards. As we'll see in the following three scenarios, organizational change is hard, even when employees and their managers agree that it's necessary, or that it can benefit both groups.

Scenario #1: Fresh Ideas, Fresh Fears

Healthcare is a volatile industry, and uncertainty looms large. After much discussion and a fair amount of disagreement, it became clear that the XYZ Physicians Group would need to sell the company, or merge with another organization in order to decrease uncertainty about its future. This meant that the organization's 55 physicians and 210 full-time employees would soon be working for a different organization.

Shortly after XYZ's employees learned that the organization would be merging with a large hospital system, its chief executive resigned. Instead of hiring a replacement, the company's board of directors voted to accelerate the merger and place the leadership of the organization under the supervision of the executive team at the hospital with whom it would be merging.

Within a day, all of XYZ's employees suddenly found themselves working for a new boss. What can the leadership at XYZ do to help employees cope with the change and keep the organization productive during this difficult time?


Effectively managing change in an organization starts with managing fear. Unfounded fears coupled with half-truths can encourage people to concoct wild scenarios with improbable outcomes. During times of potential change, company leadership should make truth and transparency the highest of priorities, as a lack of communication can create a breeding ground for fear. Naturally, transparency must be limited to changes that do not involve confidential information.

In a situation like this, think about the types of information a manager could share with employees and the most effective ways to communicate that information. Additionally, find a creative way to keep members of the workforce engaged and focused on their primary responsibilities, even when uncertainty abounds.

Scenario #2: Moving Targets

Sam's boss, the principal of the elementary school, resigned over summer vacation. Sam met the new principal only briefly before going back to work in the fall. Sam considers himself fortunate to make a living as a music teacher, since many people who love music most certainly cannot make a career of it. In the eyes of his former boss, the beginner band and orchestra could not have been doing better, based on the fact that Sam held well-attended concerts anywhere from 4-6 times per year.

When the new principal started, it quickly became clear to Sam that the criteria had changed. After many years of believing that success was measured by the number of concerts and attendees, Sam began to realize that the new principal defined success quite differently. Specifically, she began insisting that Sam meet benchmark targets for things like the number of students enrolled not only in his programs but also in private music lessons outside of school, along with reducing his budgetary needs

How could an organizational leader effectively help Sam navigate this change? Specifically, what strategies will help Sam adapt to defining success in a new and different way?


Measuring performance can be difficult under the best of circumstances, but it can be particularly challenging for employees who suddenly find that past measures of success no longer apply. Understandably, it's tough for employees who once considered themselves top performers to suddenly be told that they might not be quite as successful as they thought they were.

In these cases, understanding the reason for a different definition of success is paramount. Helping employees who act in good faith, have a positive attitude, and want to do a good job understand why measures of success actually equal success is the cornerstone of helping both them and their employers define goals in the same way.

What are some strategies you could use to communicate to Sam why the measures of success have changed?

To unlock this lesson you must be a Member.
Create your account

Register to view this lesson

Are you a student or a teacher?

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use

Become a member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back
What teachers are saying about
Try it risk-free for 30 days

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 200 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 1,500 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it risk-free for 30 days!
Create an account