What is Change Management?
Change management is a systematic approach to any organisational change, from planning and preparation to implementing innovations and controlling the situation. Moreover, change management means the process of implementing large-scale changes. It is through effective organisational change management that a manager can minimise costs and expenses, avoid many administrative problems, and help employees adapt quickly to new circumstances. Thus, change management has become essential to success in today's rapidly developing world.
It is also worth noting that change management is not an immediate reaction to what is happening but a preparation process for change and innovation. Before introducing any changes, it is necessary to analyse how these changes will affect employees and their productivity, as well as the company as a whole, its profitability and reputation. Therefore, the change management system implies, first of all, the development of a change management strategy, which would allow the introduction of the necessary changes for the business gradually and as painlessly as possible, testing and analysing the consequences.
The Basic Principles of Successful Change Management
Of course, change management technology may vary depending on the specifics of the business and the goals it pursues. Nevertheless, in any case, it is imperative to adhere to the principles below for the competent and successful use of change management.
- Create a Positive Climate in the Organisation
Any company facing the prospect of change must create a conducive climate. Innovations and changes are often feared and may cause anxiety and worry, but it is essential to minimise employee resistance to change by emphasising its value to the company. The success of innovations largely predetermines the quality of communication with the manager, a favourable psychological climate, and clear ideas about the coming changes. Only by getting answers to “How?” and “Why?” will employees realise the need for change, and the fear of change will dissipate.
- Actively Implement and Encourage Change Daily
Support employee initiatives related to implementing new technologies, processes, and solutions. Additionally, if only the manager adheres to a new effective change management system, and employees themselves do not take advantage of these changes, the expected results will not occur.
- Maintain the Implemented Changes Continuously
Changes are not instantaneous but long-term, and it is not enough to announce them. It would be best to maintain regular communication between employees and the manager, collect feedback, and identify problems that arise during adaptation. Moreover, it is crucial to monitor the progress of change implementation and determine which change management steps were the most productive and effective and which innovations may still have to get discarded.
Basic Change Management Models
Change management models represent basic concepts of planning and implementation of innovations. In some cases, it is reasonable to choose one of these models and act according to its rules. Thus, the basic methods of change management are:
The ADKAR Change Management Model
Most likely, the author is Jeff Hiatt. First, the organisation's employees affected by change models are at the centre of this methodology. Accordingly, each employee must follow this mnemonic to embrace these five steps on the way to acceptance:
- A – Awareness (awareness of the need for change);
- D – Desire (desire to support changes, to participate in them);
- K – Knowledge (understanding of what should get done during the process of changes);
- A – Ability (ability to implement changes following the intended and desired result);
- R – Reinforcement (fixation of the results of changes, control).
Thus, the concept of ADKAR implies the following strategy: employees get taught the importance and necessity of changes, and then it is necessary to make the staff want to move to these changes. Then the employees must also develop not only the knowledge of what they must do in the change but also the ability to work according to the new requirements at the same level of performance.
The Kotter Change Management Model
John Kotter, an American entrepreneur and lecturer at Harvard Business School, formulated this approach. He suggested eight steps a manager or executive should take to implement innovations. The steps that Kotter proposes are as follows:
- Create a sense of urgency, the necessity of change, emphasising the importance of immediate action.
- Form an influential team of specialists and experts. They will lead the process, that is, implement the changes. Remember that all employees must be motivated and interested in changes.
- Create a strategy for change. Firstly, list the changes or innovations you must implement in the company. Next, analyse what you need for anticipated changes. Additionally, discussing it with your colleagues and other employees would be best.
- Gather volunteers – supporters of change among regular employees. Profound changes can only happen if the whole staff is interested in them. With the help of a particular community of “followers”, it will be easier to arouse this interest in others.
- Remove obstacles and barriers. Creating conditions that do not interfere with the change process is necessary.
- Celebrate early successes. Employees need to see results that will inspire them to take further action.
- Build up the pace of change. Change must be continually initiated until the change management strategy gets fully implemented.
- Sustain the results. Innovations must be preserved until they become sustainable and replace the outdated system.
The 7S Model
This concept involves analysing the company's several, or rather seven, components. First, it is necessary to find out how they interact with each other and assume how these elements will react to the implemented changes. Based on this information, the change management manager will make a further action plan. The following parameters get analysed in the process: the company's general strategy, business structure and system processes. What's more, the manager assesses those criteria that directly depend on the company's personnel: general values and principles, management style, employees' competence and practical skills.
Lewin's Change Management Model
It is one of the most well-known and influential practices in change management that has been in use since the early 20th century. Kurt Lewin was a German psychologist who supposed that any company's success plan depends first on the manager, their personal qualities, motivation and other soft skills.
Lewin's model suggests three major steps:
At this stage, the company's management realises the business needs to change. It is necessary to help the team overcome the psychological barrier that causes the initial aversion to change. To begin with, assess the current situation and create a future image of the company after the changes. This step also includes a gap analysis, employee motivation, a plan and a list of necessary resources for innovation.
This phase involves the actual implementation of changes, their implementation, training of employees and removing obstacles and barriers that arise. For example, if the changes concern introducing and using new software, coaching employees to work with it and giving them time to get used to the new rules is necessary.
At this time, all the changes have already been implemented, and it is only necessary to consolidate the success and keep employees motivated. It is also essential to monitor the results achieved in the previous stage. The key task of this stage is to consolidate the changes so that they become a new pattern in the company.
The Change Management Process Step by Step in Practice
There are four main steps that a company must pass in any change management process:
- Preparing the Organisation for Changes
To successfully implement specific innovations, the business must be ready for them, not only from the technical point of view but also at the level of the corporate culture and the psychological climate of the team. At the preparation stage, managers, supervisors, and project managers focus on helping employees understand the need for change. Additionally, they raise awareness of the organisation's various problems and challenges. Simply put, the first stage minimises employee resistance to specific changes through persuasion, argumentation, and motivation. Later, the employees' support will help implement and consolidate all the necessary innovations successfully.
- Drawing Up a Change Management Plan
Developing a detailed implementation plan is necessary when the organisation is ready to accept change. The plan will help the manager and the employee implement innovations and stick to the new way of life. The project should contain the following:
- Strategic goals and a clear rationale – arguments and evidence as to why the changes should happen and how they will affect the achievement of global goals. To do this, describe their benefits, impact and reasons why the change should happen.
- KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) – the current situation and how success will get measured. This way, you can track and analyse the success or failure of various aspects of implementing a particular innovation.
- A list of those employees who are primarily interested in changes and able to help implement them – determine who will control the change process.
- Change Management Tools and Resources – what is needed to implement the changes.
- The scale of the planned changes – what the changes include.
- Implementing the Changes
After creating a plan, it only remains to follow its outlined steps and act according to a template of one of the models described above. Then, the manager should give all employees authority and new tasks necessary to achieve the desired result. In addition, this is how each employee will feel their importance, which will contribute to strengthening their motivation and interest in the common cause.
Also, this stage involves overcoming various obstacles or mitigating the consequences. However, one should clarify that if you can anticipate any problems before they can negatively impact you, you should eliminate them in advance. Therefore, during the implementation of changes, it is also important to celebrate small victories, proving that you are going the right way.
- Monitoring the Process and Analysing the Results
Once a change initiative is complete, managers and management must prevent a return to the previous state. However, it is essential to understand that even if a particular change gets introduced, it does not mean it has been successful. Only an in-depth analysis of the current state of affairs and the change's results will allow you to say whether the change management has been competently conducted. However, even if you are dissatisfied with the result, attempting to implement change is a valuable lesson that can teach you new ideas and provide important lessons for the future.
The Risks in Change Management
Managers often make mistakes in using change management in practice. The most common problems faced by risk management professionals are the following:
- Failure to Define Goals in Time
Most changes get implemented to improve a company's current processes, products or services. Therefore, it is imperative to identify impending problems and make a strategic plan to implement appropriate changes.
- Lack of Alignment and Communication
The manager has a significant influence on employee engagement in the overall process. Therefore, they need to communicate with the whole team. If the manager themselves aren't confident enough in the need for change, in the benefits and consequences, the employees will not be interested in it either. Therefore, communication is critical to successful change management.
- Lack of Flexibility, Unpreparedness for Change
Even before introducing change, it is crucial to understand and assess employees' skills. Being less flexible means being unresponsive to change, and such organisations cannot use change management effectively. Similar processes in these companies are much slower, and that can increase costs.
- Employees Do Not Grasp the Need for Change
In this case, the manager needs to explain to the entire company staff and, if necessary, to each employee personally what the importance of specific changes is and what results they want to achieve.
- The change gets implemented by employees who will not be affected by it
It is vital to entrust the implementation of such a solution to employees in direct contact with the area that needs to be changed.
- The change was unexpected for the employees
Preparing the company's staff in advance is necessary because the usual work mode or any specific rules will change. Any changes, including radical ones, should be introduced smoothly.
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Thus, competent change management is important and is one of the most critical factors in achieving success. After all, change management introduces new processes and technologies without disrupting the organisation. Furthermore, it helps to decrease the resistance and rejection of changes by employees and helps to understand the value and importance of innovation in business development.