Pivot to Planning

The focus of the country’s pandemic response has shifted from managing a public health crisis to reopening the economy.

Construction concerns will be pivoting from immediate survival measures to planning for an uncertain future. Exactly what the rest of 2020 and beyond will look like for the construction industry is uncertain at best, but everyone agrees it will look very different from 2019. Research Professor Thomas Schleifer’s data suggests we may be in for a serious downturn. (See Dr Schleifer’s ninth weekly “Crisis-era Message to Contractors” on this site later this week.)Construction market conditions will change, and your company must change with them.

Organizational Change

Simplar has done extensive research into organizational change over the past twenty years. “We have found that regardless of which particular change an AEC company may consider, firms with effective change management protocols can position themselves to more efficiently manage the transition, thereby potentially reducing resource expenditures and accelerating the pace of change where feasible. The result is that successful organizational change management enables firms to better respond to evolving market conditions and differentiate themselves from their competitors.”

The Key Steps in Organizational Change

Our research identifies these essential steps for managing efficient organizational change.

Step1. Secure executive sponsorship – widely credited as being a driver of successful change adoption within the organizational behavior literature.

Step 2. Extensively Communicate the Benefits for Employees – The field of organizational behavior has long credited communication of the change message as a driver of change readiness among employees (Armenakis et al.1993). Research has focused on the aspects that comprise an effective change message, much of which boils down to answering the question “What’s in it for me?” for each employee.

Step 3. Select a Change Agent – Perhaps the most important role is that of the change agent, defined in the organizational behavior literature as the internal champions of the change who act as an official “transition team” to guide the transition

Step 4. Establish Clear Performance Benchmarks to Quantify Progress – An important strategy for organizations to build momentum for a change initiative is to establish clear benchmarks of the desired results and then carefully document progress throughout the organization’s transition.

Step 5. Follow a Realistic Implementation Timescale – Another behavioral aspect of organizational change is the rate of implementation. Even when an organization’s personnel support the vision for change, they may still resist the transition if they feel management is expecting an unrealistic pace.

Step 6. Provide Sufficient Training Resources for Employees – A major cause of resistance to change occurs when organizations do not provide sufficient change-related training to their employees.

We found that implementation is key and that most leaders follow classic organizational change approaches that may sound like they meet these six steps they don’t.

Responding to the Current Crisis

How Can You Change to Win? Crises are challenging, but they don’t last forever. Eventually, there’s a new normal. While some companies struggle to stay in business, others end up perfectly positioned when opportunities for growth appear. How do they do that? By changing the way they do things to coincide with the evolving new normal.

Getting on With Change

The sudden nature of this current abrupt business interruption requires some immediate preliminary steps that will enable you to bridge today’s disruption of business to the organizational changes you will institute to accommodate the “new normal” that’s right around the corner.

  1. Come out of denial – You may not know what the “new normal” will look like, but you can rest assured a “new normal” is about to emerge.
  2. Update your balance sheet on a real-time basis – determine liabilities with an eye to which may be delayed; determine short-term cash requirements; evaluate receivables risk in light of current business conditions.
  3. Determine immediate priorities – furloughs/temporary pay cuts/contract reviews/legal opinions/surety agreements/banking relations/government programs.
  4. Monitor key performance indicators on a real-time basis – remembering that you can’t manage what you can’t measure.
  5. Conduct pandemic scenario planning – Evaluate state-of-emergency declarations by government officials that will affect funding and your ability to conduct operations.
  6. Managing through uncertainty is an art and a science – Keep tight control of cash and an eagle eye on the balance sheet. Listen to employees, customers, shareholders, and other stakeholders. Communicate. Be honest and transparent. Learn to think differently so that when the crisis is over, your company is poised for success.


“…successful organizational change management enables firms to better respond to evolving market conditions and differentiate themselves from their competitors.”

Start your change journey with a better understanding of the Resistance to Change.

Learn more about Simplar’s  Organizational Change Global Database and the benefits of reducing resistance.