One of the few constants of the modern workplace is that there will be change. “Identifying a purposeful way to make transitions is a competitive advantage in today’s business world,” says Tara Seager, an expert in organizational change.
Seager, a pharmaceutical and healthcare business consultant and head of Ally Solutions Group in Clinton, was one of seven speakers scheduled to discuss key strategies for leaders at an “Executive Leadership Summit,” sponsored by Mercer County Community College’s Institute of Management and Technology.
“Overcoming Challenges in the Modern Workplace,” a day-long event, had been scheduled for Tuesday, October 9, but a little more than a week before its scheduled start it fell victim to that inevitable constant. The organizers discovered that the October 9 date fell on the day after the celebration of Columbus Day, a holiday at many of the companies expected to send participants, well as a scheduling dilemma for some of the presenters. The conference was postponed, with no new date yet announced. (Among the scheduled presenters: Diana B. Henriques, a Pulitzer Prize finalist and senior editor for the New York Times’ financial section for nearly 30 years; former CEO Stephen Payne; HR expert Paul Marciano; public speaking coach Eileen N. Sinett; and consultants David Tate and Priscilla Cale.)
For the past 15 years, Seager has worked with Fortune 100 clients in the pharmaceutical, life sciences, consumer products, technology, and healthcare industries developing business solutions for organization effectiveness, change management, operation/process improvement and learning effectiveness. She is the managing partner of Ally Solutions Group and Ally Healthcare Solutions, both organizational change management consulting firms.
For the past 10 years, she has been a leader in the New Jersey Organization Development Learning Community. She is the president of the 1,200-member organization. She is also co-leader of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society’s National Change Management Task Force, and a member of the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association, American Society for Training and Development, and the United Way Women’s Leadership Council.
Her educational background is a mixture of operational business and technology — studying decision support systems at New Jersey Institute of Technology in its MBA program and business management and communications at Lycoming College in Williamsport, PA, where she earned her bachelor’s in 1986.
Her early corporate positions were in marketing and business development. “In my work as a trainer I would often see people arrive in a class unprepared, arguing about the need for the change and their need to be there. I began to understand that before you can effectively train people in a new system, you must first make sure they understand why it is needed. I became more and more interested in this often neglected upfront piece of organizational change,” she says.
Climate of Change. In today’s business climate, change is a fact of life. Whether the change is a new process, a new software system, a merger or a downsizing, it will disrupt the flow of work at some level.
By identifying the change, communicating why it is needed, and helping all employees to adjust to the “new normal,” corporate leaders can increase the speed in which the change is not only accepted, but becomes routine.
“The key to sustainability in this model is in building and embedding change management competencies within the organization. A change capable organization is agile and has the increased ability to respond, adapt, and deliver on large-scale business opportunities,” says Seager.
When working with a company in the midst of a change, says Seager, “you must look at your entire stakeholder group. Who is going to make an impact? Identify the sponsors of the change. These are the leaders. This group must go through the process themselves so that they can model the change to others.”
Communicate the Need. Once the leaders have been identified and trained, it is important to explain why the change is necessary to the entire workforce. Understanding that a change has been made for a real reason, why it is necessary, and how it will improve the work is an important way to insure that it is successful.
“There is an art to managing change in any organization. It is the art of marrying the theory of change to the challenges presented by the real world. In my work within corporations and now as a consultant I’ve seen this need and void in leadership that is often present in rolling out major programs,” says Seager.
Anyone who wants to be a leader in today’s business climate must learn this art. “To be a leader in the corporate world today you must be resilient and change capable. It is the best way to lower risk and increase the ability of a company to succeed in the marketplace.”