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Embrace the Hard and Soft Sides of Change Management for Better Business Outcomes

Published Tue Mar 23 2021

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(Alexandria, VA) March 23, 2021—Change efforts in organizations frequently fail. In The Hard and Soft Sides of Change Management: Tools for Managing Process and People (ATD Press, 2021), learning and organizational development expert Kathryn Zukof provides practical guidance to organizations looking to achieve better results and greater success through their change initiatives, such as faster and greater adoption of new technology or an easier and less painful implementation of an organizational restructure.

Although workplace change initiatives are becoming more frequent, the results are often disappointing and lacking when organizations place more emphasis on process or “hard” activities and tasks rather than the “soft” people side of change and vice versa. Zukof advises that by simultaneously addressing hard- and soft-side tasks, goals, and efforts—and finding the sweet spot between the two—organizations have the greatest opportunity for to achieve consistent positive results for themselves and their employees.

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According to Zukof, organizations and employees can manage change even when it is constant. She sees change management as a dance of hard and soft and provides tools and approaches for managing them both, including guidance for addressing the soft side of change while deploying tools and advice for staying focused on the hard side of change while using soft-side tools.

Change, even in its most positive form, can usher in feelings of potential loss, including loss of competence, loss of efficiency, loss of feeling “in the know” or included, loss of status, loss of connection to the organization’s larger culture and mission, and job insecurity and instability.

“Helping employees navigate through these anxieties and the unavoidable losses, whether temporary or permanent, is a critical part of a successful change management process and can be achieved by communicating openly and honestly; acknowledging the challenges involved and looking for ways to shorten periods of inefficiency as much as possible; helping employees build knowledge, skills, and attitudes they need to perform their work as things change; and providing opportunities for employees to contribute their ideas and expertise so they feel like they still matter at work,” explains Zukof.

The challenges on the hard side of change can be equally difficult and include failing to articulate the goal or provide a convincing rationale about its importance; failing to account for the effort employees must exert to cope with change; failing to monitor results and adjust as lessens are learned, and underestimating the scale and scope of the change.

“It is important that organizations stay focused and organized; secure the right resources and use them in the right way; and keep things moving forward while at the same time remaining flexible and open to learning,” states Zukof. “This can be accomplished by clearly defining what needs to be accomplished; accounting for the entire scope of the change as steps are mapped out for reaching goals; involving people with the right skills and experience; factoring in the level of effort employees must make to adapt; adjusting expectations to what can be done; and reflecting and adjusting along the way based on what is and is not working.”

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About the Author

Kathryn Zukof is a learning and organizational development practitioner and educator with more than 30 years of experience in industries ranging from manufacturing, to higher education, to technology services. She focuses on helping organizations create and implement innovative approaches to leadership development and succession management, foster an environment of continuous learning, and plan and navigate through transformational change. Before she transitioned to a career in L&OD, Kathryn held management roles in client relations, product

development, and marketing in the technology services sector. Kathryn has a PhD in social psychology and an MBA in marketing. She has taught graduate and undergraduate courses in industrial and organizational psychology, research methods, and marketing.

About ATD and ATD Press

The Association for Talent Development (ATD) is the world’s largest association dedicated to those who develop talent in organizations. ATD’s members come from more than 120 countries and work in public and private organizations in every industry sector. ATD Press publications are written by industry thought leaders and offer anyone who works with adult learners the best practices, academic theory, and guidance necessary to move the profession forward. For more information, visit td.org/books.

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The Hard and Soft Sides of Change Management: Tools for Managing Process and People

ISBN: 9781950496877 | 340 Pages | Paperback

td.org/books/the-hard-and-soft-sides-of-change-management-tools-for-managing-process-and-people

To order books from ATD Press, call 800.628.2783.

To schedule an interview with Kathryn Zukof, please contact Kay Hechler, ATD Press senior marketing manager, at [email protected] or 703.683.8178.

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