12 Jun 2024 Blog

Managing organisational change does not need to be daunting

Miltton’s specialists Ulla Koho, Rina Sirén and Pauliina Saares share their field insights into managing the process of change with lasting impact. 


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In the dynamic landscape of today’s business world, change is inevitable. Whether it involves restructure, mergers, or a shift in company culture, the process of change can be both exciting and daunting for employees and managers alike. At Miltton, we understand the intricate interplay between a changing organisation and the people within. It is for this reason we are dedicated to helping our clients navigate these transitions efficiently with grace and humanity.

Our comprehensive approach, led by our team of seasoned experts, integrates leadership development, risk and issues management, communications, organisational design and research. We empower organisations to emerge stronger from any change process by providing the tools and support to guide them through each stage of change. Leading the discussion are Miltton’s own specialists, including Ulla Koho, Organisation Design Business Lead; Rina Sirén, Leadership and Culture Business Lead; and Pauliina Saares, Director of Crises Communications and Issues Management. Together, they share their field insights into managing the process of change with lasting impact. 

1. How do you define a changemaker and why are they important to the success of change processes? 

Ulla: I see a changemaker as someone who is not stuck in the old ways of doing things but is willing to deconstruct existing processes to uncover opportunities for improvement, and advocates for transparency to facilitate meaningful change. Serving as catalysts for progress, they inspire others to embrace change and guide organisations through transitions, while maintaining morale and productivity, ultimately contributing to the success of change initiatives.

Rina: From my perspective, a changemaker understands the need for change, can visualise and talk about the new reality and recognises that individuals are at different stages of readiness. They possess emotional intelligence and engage in brave and empathetic communication that allow them to open complex dialogues, while creating a safe space for people to voice their concerns. They listen actively and welcome feedback, using this information to guide and support others through the change process – and even to possibly update the plans. Changemakers empower others to embrace change and create positive transformation within organisations.

Pauliina: Successful communication planning for challenging situations such as organisational change involves three key elements: preparation, sensitivity, and legality. Preparation means having a detailed communication strategy ready, while also anticipating the challenging questions possibly ahead. Sensitivity requires a supportive communication tone, which acknowledges the emotional impact on the organisation. Adhering to legal requirements ensures all communications comply with relevant laws – this is especially important in change negotiation communications. Changemakers are essential to this process, foreseeing potential issues and preparing the organisation to handle them adeptly. Their ability to navigate uncertainty with clear, empathetic, and strategic communication reduces, for example, the risk of misunderstandings and speculation and builds trust, which is crucial for managing any change situation successfully.

2. How do you prepare clients to handle change, ensuring that people are prioritized?

Rina S: We work with our client to develop general change capabilities and support specific change processes. Everything we do aims at ensuring people are prioritised – to be seen and heard. Our message is clear: to involve people and genuinely listen to them in the planning phase, which may seem time-consuming and inefficient, but ultimately speeds up progress. When developing change leadership skills in an organisation, we start by deep diving into the company’s current change readiness using a variety of tools and approaches. We aim at talking to people at all levels through workshops, interviews, and surveys, to get a real sense of what works, what the concerns are and how they can be turned into positive action. We also train leaders, individuals and teams on change leadership capabilities, the psychology of change and human social needs. We also measure the development of change readiness and use the data to tweak the plans.

Ulla K: We believe in co-designing change processes with employees and managers to ensure their buy-in and commitment. By involving them in the process, they can add their insights and perspectives, which encourages a sense of ownership and investment in the outcomes. Additionally, we provide support and guidance throughout the change journey, equipping clients with tools and resources to navigate challenging moments with confidence. Co-design is also an excellent approach for identifying the actual need for new tools. A common mistake in driving change is to bring out a bigger hammer to hit the mark. However, this is often unnecessary. Instead of introducing new tools, we should focus on understanding and better utilisation of the existing capabilities.

Pauliina S: When supporting our clients in change management, we prioritise a structured approach that adheres to legal requirements, while emphasising psychological safety and empathetic communication to address any insecurities and anxieties. To prepare clients for handling difficult topics, we provide training and coaching on effective communication techniques, including how to deliver bad news, handle media inquiries, and engage with stakeholders transparently with support for supervisors and changemakers. Being proactive is essential in managing the human aspect of change effectively, and we encourage our clients to communicate their key messages clearly and timely to prevent confusion and foster a sense of transparency and trust throughout the process.

3. Can you provide an example of how you successfully prepared an organisation for change, managed the transition, and sustained positive outcomes?

Rina S: We created a change leadership development program to equip leaders with a better understanding of several different aspects of change and effective change communication capabilities. This enabled them to clearly explain the reasons for the change, what was changing, and they received tools and practice on how to guide their teams through it. We ran workshops to train leaders in change dialogue and how to navigate the complexities of various change phases – and various emotions. By providing ongoing support and follow-up, we ensured leaders had the tools and mindset to keep up the momentum. This comprehensive approach resulted in a smoother transition with less resistance during a change that did require transformations in both ways of working and mindsets.

Pauliina S: We help clients manage communications during times of change by offering strategic advice and hands-on support. For example, during change negotiations, we have helped customers to outline key messages and drafted Q&A documents to address possible concerns. We’ve also held practice sessions with top executives and managers to prep them for tough questions and difficult discussions. Minimising reputational risks involves being proactive, transparent, consistent in messaging, and keeping all stakeholders informed throughout the change process.

Ulla K: When a marketing organisation faced a significant restructure and workforce reductions, we saw an opportunity to turn challenges into growth. We helped redefine the company’s vision and break it down into actionable tasks. By integrating employees in skill mapping exercises, we identified ways to realign existing talent. This approach showed team members how their skills could support the organisation’s goals, while maintaining morale and productivity during the transition. Additionally, by encouraging transparency and open communication, we were able to lower resistance and build confidence in the change process.

Leading change with compassion

We recognise the emotional impact of change processes and work closely with clients to address the human element, fostering individual and team resilience while cultivating a supportive culture. Whether this means leading change processes, facilitating organisational development, or navigating challenging stakeholder discussions, we stand by our clients every step of the way. Together, we ensure that change is not only managed effectively but also embraced authentically, resulting in lasting success and growth.

Our services for change management

Is your organisation undergoing change negotiations or has it already completed the change process and needs help rebuilding? Our experts in leadership development, crisis communications and issues management, internal communications, organisational design, and research and insight are ready to explore these topics with you and help you move forward.

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