Reducing Organizational Friction to Facilitate Change

If organizational friction is standing in the way of making change in your org, it’s time to consider how technology can help.

Jackie Simens

CE Consulting Manager

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    Is your business grappling with increased costs, decreased efficiency, or missed growth opportunities? Organizational friction might be the culprit.

    Organizational friction can appear in several different ways, including low employee morale, high turnover, or poor performance. When this starts to happen, it’s hard for businesses to implement the changes needed to make progress, innovate, and grow.

    This article explores the pitfalls of organizational friction on change management and operational success. Learn how to identify friction within your organization, and ways you can reduce friction to facilitate change.

    Understanding Organizational Friction and Its Impact on Change Management

    To keep it simple, organizational friction is a resistance to change within an organization. Friction can look like employee resistance to new processes, technologies, or organizational structures.

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    “Organizational friction is essentially resistance. Includes employee push back and lack of buy-in. It can slow down, delay or halt an implementation. It can also cause decreased employee morale and engagement, which means they can ‘zone out’ during training or ignore communications.” – Jackie Simens, CE Consulting Manager, Velosio

    Many factors contribute to organizational friction, with outdated and clunky tech being one of the most common. Poor communication and collaboration can also create barriers to change.

    Beyond employee resistance to change, poor management can also lead to organizational friction. Some companies may be reluctant to break from tradition, which may result in inward focused “ego-systems” over a collaborative and progressive business ecosystem.

    The consequences of organizational friction on change management initiatives are substantial: delays, increased costs, and high employee turnover. In fact, up to 35% of millennial and Gen Z employees claim they would leave an organization with outdated tech. With unsupported and unsatisfied employees, it’s hard to make progress and move a business forward.

    The Importance of Identifying and Reducing Organizational Friction

    Because organizational friction can be detrimental to the success of a business, it’s important to identify it early. But detecting organizational friction can be tricky. Friction can be subtle and build up over time, but often reveals itself through these common symptoms:

    • Declining morale and employee engagement
    • Resistance to change
    • Missed deadlines and subpar performance
    • Poor communication and collaboration
    • High turnover rates and absenteeism

    Jackie Simens, Velosio’s change management expert, points to “fear of the unknown, lack of trust in leadership, concerns with job security, and symptoms of change fatigue” as additional warning signs to watch out for.

    By identifying these signs early, organizations can smooth friction before it evolves into a formidable barrier to change. Reducing organizational friction leads to numerous benefits that can help promote change management, including:

    • Increased productivity
    • Improved collaboration
    • Increased employee engagement
    • Enhanced innovation
    • Greater employee satisfaction and retention

    Tackling organizational friction is an ongoing journey that requires a commitment from to continually identify friction points and take action to combat it.

    Practical Strategies for Reducing Organizational Friction

    Organizational friction not only hinders growth and innovation, but also impacts the health of an organization. Patrick Lencioni, a business consultant and author, defines organizational health as the ability of an organization to function effectively, cohesively, and sustainably over time.

    He believes that a healthy organization possesses a strong sense of clarity and alignment, where everyone is committed to a common purpose. By reducing organizational friction, you can cultivate a more agile and responsive culture, primed for seizing new opportunities.

    If your organization is experiencing organizational friction, consider these strategies to create a supportive environment that fosters growth, innovation, and organizational health:

    1. Enhance communication and collaboration

    Boosting communication and collaboration is essential for re-engaging employees and promoting change. Consider these methods for your own organization:

    • Encourage open communication: encourage employees to communicate openly and honestly with each other. Create an environment where employees feel comfortable sharing their ideas.
    • Use the right tools: invest in the right communication tools like project management software, video conferencing software, internal social networks, file-sharing services, and messaging apps to facilitate communication and collaboration. Consider using a combination of tools like Microsoft Teams, Viva, and Yammer found in the Microsoft 365 platform.
    • Define clear goals and expectations: set clear goals and expectations for each project, team, and individual. This helps everyone understand their role and responsibilities and ensures that everyone is working toward the same objective.
    • Foster a team-oriented culture: encourage teamwork and collaboration by creating a culture that values and rewards cooperation and collaboration. Encourage employees to share knowledge and resources and recognize and reward collaborative efforts.
    1. Promote a culture of innovation

    Nurturing a culture of innovation empowers organizations to adapt and respond swiftly to change. To promote a culture of innovation:

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    • Champion experimentation and risk-taking
    • Recognize and reward employees for creative ideas and contributions
    • Offer training and development opportunities to elevate skills on platforms like Microsoft Viva Learning
    1. Implement change management best practices

    Robust change management is vital for reducing organizational friction and driving successful change initiatives. Here are a few ways to implement change management in your organization:

    • Define clear goals that map a course towards your desired change
    • Develop macro and micro KPIs to measure progress
    • Collect data and monitor progress
    • Ask for continuous feedback from employees and stakeholders

    Taking clear, measured steps towards change can help to continuously erode friction. But keep in mind that this is an ongoing process. Reducing friction requires continuous monitoring and evaluation of your goals to ensure long-lasting and sustainable change.

    Ensure Sustainable Change by Monitoring and Evaluating Data

    Reducing friction to facilitate change requires continuous monitoring and evaluating of your entire business ecosystem. As previously mentioned, reducing organizational friction takes time, and so does facilitating change. Without analyzing data, it’s hard to know what to tackle first.

    When you first start out, it’s important to define specific key performance indicators (KPIs) so you can track your progress. Depending on what you are looking to change, here are a few metrics you could track:

    • User adoption rates
    • Project ROI
    • Adherence to deadlines
    • Usage and utilization
    • Employee engagement

    Depending on your goals, there are several tools that can make data collection easier. For example, Microsoft Dynamics 365 suite of CRM products gives you access to information about customer engagement, sales and marketing efforts, and project operations.

    Once you’ve started collecting data, regularly report on the KPIs to keep teams and stakeholders updated on progress. Regularly reporting also enables to you identify emerging areas that may need improvement.

    Engage Employees and Stakeholders to Facilitate Change

    Engaging employees throughout the process is also vital to securing their buy-in and support. Make it a priority to communicate regularly, offer training, and involve them in the decision-making processes.

    Employee and stakeholder engagement is critical to facilitate successful change in a business. Actively involving them in the change process fosters understanding, bolsters support, minimizes resistance, boosts buy-in, and allows early identification of potential roadblocks.

    To effectively engage employees and stakeholders, consider these strategies:

    • Facilitate feedback and open discussions by conducting regular meetings, surveys, and focus groups.
    • Convey the rationale, details, and implications of change initiatives to employees and stakeholders.
    • Encourage participation in planning and execution by forming cross-functional teams, creating task forces, and providing training and support.
    • Acknowledge and reward employee contributions, building momentum and maintaining engagement.

    Dive into our recent article about winning employee buy-in, featuring practical tips on leveraging data to steer successful change initiatives.

    Final Thoughts

    If organizational friction is standing in the way of making change in your business, it’s time to consider how technology can help you conquer these challenges and achieve results.

    As a full-service Microsoft partner, Velosio is proficient in applying the latest tools to propel your organization toward frictionless success.

    Don’t let organizational friction hold you back. Reach out to us today and discover how our innovative solutions can revolutionize your change management initiatives and unleash your business’s true potential.

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    Jackie Simens

    CE Consulting Manager

    Follow Me: