Managing impact of major change

With close to 260 of our colleagues retiring at the end of August, the challenge of picking up the pieces during the fall semester – one of the busiest times of year – will be significant.Read more »

With close to 260 of our colleagues retiring at the end of August, the challenge of picking up the pieces during the fall semester – one of the busiest times of year – will be significant. “Team leaders will need to manage proactively what needs to be done in the immediate:   how tasks can be redistributed effectively and what tasks can be dropped because they are not “mission critical”,” explains Johanne Houle, Director, Organizational Development in Human Resources.

She and her team are actively involved in helping faculties and units to manage the impact of the challenges facing the University in the aftermath of those who have left for retirement. After consulting with managers across the University these past few months, Johanne and her team have developed a series of support tools and training modules to deal with major change, emphasizing three main priorities that should be addressed.

Three main priorities:

  • Knowledge transfer:  the need to capture people’s historical knowledge and to document related work processes and procedures, before they leave the University 
  • Process improvement: review existing processes, assess their effectiveness, simplifying and optimizing, in alignment with unit objectives and the needs of key stakeholders 
  • Employee Engagement:  optimize conditions to support change management, limit undue stress on employees, and support continuous learning and recognition, in the aftermath of departures.

Knowledge transfer is now

Now is the time to conduct knowledge transfer as a significant number of those who elected to retire will be leaving soon. It is important to consider the following:

Those leaving:

  • Encourage their input and let them know that their departure will be felt and that it will impact the team.
  • Encourage them to share their content knowledge as soon as possible along with ideas for simplifying or improving existing work methods.

Those remaining:

  • Engage them by reassuring them they will not be doing “two jobs for the price of one”.
  • Have them think career – in times of adversity, some will consider this an opportunity to develop new skills to more easily adapt to this new reality. Continuous learning is vital to engagement and advancement.

Knowledge transfer considerations:

  • Identify key deliverables: purpose, frequency, key contacts, resources, systems, timing, risk.
  • Watch for: alternating frequency (e.g. every other year), unpredictable tasks, high risk, (safety, liability, fraud), process integrity (e.g. losing a key contact).

Knowledge transfer methods:

  • Conduct semi-structured employee interviews (around deliverables, skills) and open-ended.
  • Document processes and procedures; review and test procedures before leaving, keep procedures in a central location for all to be able to access.

Knowledge transfer opportunities:

  • Capture the profiles of everyone in your group
  • Cultivate transparency
  • A back-up is good but cross-training is better
  • Reinforce teamwork
  • Centralize procedures
  • Share best practices

Knowledge transfer resources:

Other tools to support you in this context are available by clicking on the following:

– online-tools/training  – click here 

-coaching ourselves  – click here  

In the next issue of FORUM, we will look at process improvement and dealing with stress in the workplace.

In the meantime, if you have questions or would like to know how the OD team can support your needs, please visit our website @ click here  where you will find an extensive range of programs and tools and how to sign up for training sessions.