Implementing Proactive Organisational Change in a Fast-Changing World

Posted in : HR Updates on 20 November 2020
Paolo Ruoppolo
Think People
Issues covered: HR Updates; Organisational Change; Policies and Procedures; Flexible Working; Remote Working; A-typical Working

Immense change brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic has affected millions of people worldwide, altering working patterns and practices. Organisations have had to adopt new ways of working and depend heavily on the support of technology. Furthermore, others have had to totally rethink their business model, moving to online services and products, engaging in new business channels. To comply with social distancing requirements, many organisations have had to switch to home/remote working for at least part of their workforce, requiring managers and leaders to engage with hybrid teams.

Organisations and their workforces have embraced these changes almost overnight, with little time to develop strategies and plans, train staff and implement new practices. The majority of these solutions were reactive and short-term with little understanding of how long the pandemic would have lasted.

Some ten months in, the reality is that the pandemic is not short-term, and ‘the new normal’ is here to stay.

It is now clear that organisations need to normalise their new practices, switching from a reactive/emergency approach to a proactive and planned normalisation.

Drawing loosely on the ‘Normalisation Process Theory (NPT)’ here are some practical steps we need to take, to proactively embed and routinise the ‘new normal’ within your organisation.


  • Leaders need to ensure that each team member is aware and understands the vision, aims, objectives and expected benefits of the proposed or implemented changes.
  • The comparison between the pre-Covid practices and the implemented changes should be openly discussed at every level, not ignored. Things are different.
  • Ensure that each team member’s perceptions of their tasks and responsibilities in the ‘new normal’ are assessed and linked to the values and benefits of the change.

Cognitive Participation:

  • Leaders need to evaluate if key team members are actively contributing to embed the changes.
  • Teams may need to be reorganised in order to accommodate the requirements of the new processes and ways of working.
  • Team members need to feel that they are involved and can contribute to ensure the changes are successfully embedded.
  • Leaders should involve the team to collectively define the behaviours, actions and procedures to normalise the ‘new normal’.    

Collective Action:

  • Leaders need to assess and review the operational work that the team is undertaking and assess if the new set of processes and behaviours are used systematically in the everyday practices. If this is not the case, then feedback must be provided.
  • Every team member has acquired and embedded the knowledge needed to adapt the everyday operations. If this is not happening, mentoring and or training needs to be provided. This will build confidence and capabilities in the ‘new normal’.
  • Tasks will need to be reallocated or assigned depending on capabilities, motivation and possible restrictions caused by working remotely.

Reflexive Monitoring:

  • Leaders should monitor the work that colleagues do to assess and understand the ways that the new set of practices and processes are impacting productivity and quality. Is the ‘new normal’ effective and productive? Are the objectives set going to be achieved?  
  • Promote collaboration across individuals and teams to evaluate if the ‘new normal’ processes and practices are valuable and practical.
  • Appraise how the work and behaviours are conducted and constantly find new ways to improve, redefine or modify practices. Leaders must be ready for the next change.

Finally, like never before, it has been demonstrated how fragile our society is at the moment and how vulnerable we are. People are by turns feeling fearful, tired, lonely, disoriented, unsure and angry. Our resilience is tested because we don’t have comparisons with similar life experiences.

Leaders, to support change and normalise the ‘new normality,’ need to reach out to their teams, using technology to keep in touch (not to check on them) with remote colleagues. Listen with empathy, encourage, support and be kind. Also be kind to yourself, we are all humans, and we are learning together how to cope with this pandemic. We are writing this book together.

Leadership Workshop: Implementing Organisation Change in a Fast-Changing World

In order to be successful during the economic uncertainty ahead, leaders will need to plan and implement strategic internal change while the world continues to transform around us and managers will need to gain buy-in from and motivate a disoriented workforce. This facilitated workshop will help leaders and managers create growth, innovation and momentum through the uncertainty of COVID-19.

Learn more & Register at:                      


This article is correct at 20/11/2020

The information in this article is provided as part of Legal-Island's Employment Law Hub. We regret we are not able to respond to requests for specific legal or HR queries and recommend that professional advice is obtained before relying on information supplied anywhere within this article.

Paolo Ruoppolo
Think People

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