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What is Change Management?
Change management is a systematic approach that organisations implement when dealing with certain transitions or transformations.
These transitions and transformations can be relative to an organisation’s goals, processes, or even technologies.
Organisations rely on effective change management initiatives to not only succeed in implementing the change itself but to also succeed in helping people to accept and adapt to the change.
In an age when changes of all kinds happen in the workplace on a regular basis and companies are constantly in a state of evolution, change management experts have steadily become an essential go-to resource for navigating the often challenging path of an effective change management journey.
When is Organisational Change Management Needed?
There are various scenarios that may necessitate the need for professional change management drivers.
Typically, change management should be implemented whenever an organisation plans to implement a change that will interrupt or alter day-to-day operations. Some examples of this include the following:
- A change to an employee’s role. Individuals derive a sense of purpose and fulfillment from the ability to use their strengths in the workplace day in and day out. When an employee’s role is set to change, however, and they must acquire new skills and gain familiarity with new responsibilities, it can be jarring.
- A change to an employee’s tools and tasks. There’s comfort in familiarity, and even if the tools an employee daily uses are out-of-date or not as efficient as they could be, changing them can be incredibly disruptive, as the employee now has to acquire expertise for an entirely new resource. The same applies to changes to an employee’s work content, such as adaptations to the tasks they regularly perform, their work cadence, or even their working calendar.
- A change to the organisation. Needless to say, any high-level changes to an organisation are naturally bound to affect every member of the enterprise, from high-ranking executives to new hires. Below, we’ll discuss the most common types of organisational change.
Change management is a necessity when it comes to organisational change. Organisations will typically rely on the expertise of change management coaches and/or teams when dealing with the following types of changes:
- Developmental change. Developmental change entails any change whereby an organisation seeks to make adjustments to pre-existing processes and procedures.
- Transitional change. Transitional change entails circumstances such as mergers and acquisitions. Essentially, an organisation is transitioning from its current state to a new state, usually with the intention of solving a problem.
- Transformational change. If a company decides to pursue an entirely different market or offer entirely different products and/or services, this is considered transformational change. In this type of change, an organisation undergoes a radical transformation to its culture and operation.
Common Challenges of Change Management
The majority of individuals aren’t keen on change. It can be challenging to adopt new processes, tools, work flows, responsibilities, behaviors, etc. If not managed effectively, employees can continue to struggle with change, which can impact morale and productivity, leading to a stagnant or negative working environment.
There are many challenges to change management, and organisations should be aware of them when embarking on any new change management initiative.
Great leaders can inspire their employees to embrace change. Poor leadership, however, can have the opposite effect. Employees take their cues from the leadership team, and if the organisation's leaders themselves voice dissent to the change or hesitation about its effectiveness, it will ultimately impact the workforce.
As with any setting, communication is key. This is especially the case when it comes to successfully implementing a change management initiative. There should be consistent communication during every stage of the change experience, allowing employees to feel included in the overall process. For larger organisations with various offices and departments across the globe, effective interdepartmental communication must be taken into account.
Slow approval processes can drag out a change initiative for much longer than what is needed. This can delay the overall implementation of change, making it harder for employees to adapt. Organisations should always decide on milestone deadlines ahead of time and adhere to them inasmuch as possible.
Lack of clarity around goals
Whether an organisation is committed to updating current practices, implementing new technologies, or transforming its culture, it must define clear goals ahead of time. This allows leadership and other employees to clearly understand the organisation's vision and new trajectory, which can help with a smoother change experience.
It bears repeating that most people aren’t very welcoming to the idea of change. This is the case not just in our personal lives, but in our professional lives as well. People find security in the familiar, and anything that disrupts the familiar can cause fear, uncertainty, stress, and frustration. Some may begin to question their purpose within the organisation. Some may worry they do not possess the appropriate skills or experience to appropriately embrace the change (such as in the case of changes to an employee’s role or responsibilities). This can result in resistance to change, and is a common response to change of any kind within an organisation. With the appropriate training and planning, however, leaders can effectively address resistance and improve overall morale.
Best Practices for Successful Change Management
While implementing change initiatives can be a challenging feat for organisations, workplaces all over the world successfully adapt to change every day.
There are certain best practices for successful change management that every organisation should be mindful of when embarking on a change.
Clarity is essential across the board when it comes to defining the goals and milestones of any change management initiative. This clarity makes it easier for employees to understand what the change process and end result will entail, and can help with winning individuals over to the change early on.
Effective communication is one of the foundational pillars of a successful change management initiative. Organisations should communicate with employees consistently throughout the change process. Not only does this help employees stay updated with the change every step of the way, but it also helps employees to feel as if they’re a part of the change. Organisations should also make it a point to choose the right communication tools for their workplace, which may mean utilising various tools for the most touch points possible.
Part of effective communication also means encouraging conversations and perhaps even maintaining an open-door policy in the workplace, whereby employees can speak with leadership about any concerns they may have relative to the change. By allowing your employees to ask questions, make suggestions, and openly comment on a change initiative, an organisation allows them to feel as if they have ownership in the process, which can help expedite with adapting to the change.
Employees want to feel as if they have ownership in the organisation for which they work. This is especially the case when it comes to change initiatives. Involving your employees in the change process as much as possible can help with a smoother transition and may also lead to employees adapting to the change more quickly. Empowering your teams can be as simple as inviting their feedback and suggestions during change initiatives.
Employees appreciate transparency and honesty from leadership, so organisations should make it a point to be fully transparent throughout the change experience. This will build trust throughout the organisation and will also allow employees to feel that they can rely and depend on leadership. Again, an open-door policy in the workplace is a great way to reassure employees and have their questions answered as they arise. When leadership is transparent in their communications, it lends to a sense of security and community in the workplace.
Many change initiatives may require extensive training, especially in the case of implementing new technologies, tools, procedures, etc. This can be incredibly daunting to employees, who may not feel as if they have sufficient knowledge around a new task or the appropriate abilities to perform a new responsibility with success. Organisations can reassure their teams by providing significant training where needed. Leaders may find that more than one training session may be needed, but giving employees ample amount of time to adapt can ease the change process and help keep up morale.
Recognition and praise should always be a staple in the workplace, but that’s especially the case in times of organisational change. Leaders should make it a point to recognize and reward employees for certain tasks such as successfully completing a training, adopting a new behavior, or reaching a particular milestone in the change initiative. A culture of recognition can boost overall morale and also help to motivate employees to more quickly adapt to the change.
Popular Change Management Models and Tools
When an organisation hires a change management expert or team to help with their change initiative, certain models or tools may be used to guide the chance process.
Some of the most well-known change management tools include the following:
- The ADKAR model, created by Prosci founder Jeff Hiatt
- Awareness of the need for change
- Desire to participate in and support the change
- Knowledge about how to change
- Ability to implement change and behaviors
- Reinforcement to sustain the change
- Bridges' Transition Model, created by change consultant William Bridges
- Letting go
- Uncertainty and confusion
- Kotter's 8-Step Process for Leading Change, created by Harvard University professor John Kotter
- Create a sense of urgency
- Build a guiding coalition
- Form a strategic vision and initiatives
- Enlist a volunteer army
- Enable action by removing barriers
- Generate short-term wins
- Sustain acceleration
- Institute change
- Lewin's Change Management Model, created by psychologist Kurt Lewin
- McKinsey 7S, created by business consultants Robert H. Waterman Jr. and Tom Peters
- Shared values
In addition to change management models, organisations will typically find it incredibly beneficial to also make use of software suites that can allow them to maintain change logs and provide stakeholders with an overarching and in-depth summary of the change process and its effects.
Some of the more well-known software tools for change management include:
Change Management Done Successfully
When change management is carried out effectively, it can increase the business outcomes of any change initiative. For this reason, it’s essential that organisations embarking on change initiatives of any type (whether they be development changes, transitional changes, or transformational changes) implement best practices that effectively meet the challenges bound to arise during change initiatives.
Having a change management expert on-hand can make all the difference when it comes to a smoother change process, more engaged employees, adequate training, and appropriate measures to address resistance.
"In my time working with Ros she has been the cornerstone of a large, complex and incredibly comprehensive organisational wide cultural change initiative. Her energy, drive and personal strength has been inspirational and impacts everyone she works with. She has a unique skill set in that she combines an incredible depth of facilitaion and training capability with strategic understanding. With this she becomes instrumental in both shaping a people strategy and also then tranlating that strategy into creative, engaging and high impact organisational initiatives. She is a delight to work with."
"I have had the pleasure of working with Ros and find her to be a wealth of knowledge as a solutions and action-oriented professional. Ros is an excellent facilitator and her passion for helping her colleagues manage through the change process is evident in her work. She is agile thinker able to engage and empathise with her audience, while providing challenging insight that encourages one to think outside parameters. She is a valuable asset to her organisation!"
-Stacey K Woods
"I have always fond Ros to be a highly motivated and skilled person. Her expert knowledge of change managment, sound advice and willingness to help has been a huge benefit for me and my team. I would strongly recommend Ros as an Organisation Development manager."
Rosalind Cardinal is the Managing Director of Shaping Change, a consultancy specialising in improving business outcomes by developing individuals, teams and organisations.
Ros is an outstanding facilitator whose passion is evident in her work. She is able to engage and empathise with her audience, while providing challenging insight that encourages people to think outside parameters. She has a unique skill set that combines an incredible depth of facilitation and training capability with strategic understanding. With this she becomes instrumental in both shaping a strategy and also then translating that strategy into creative, engaging and high impact organisational initiatives
Ros’ many certifications include LSI/GSI/LI and OCI/OEI (Human Synergistics), Mayer Salovey Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (ebpsych), Myers Briggs Type Indicator Step 1 and 2 (APP), 4Mat Learning Type Measure/Hemispheric Mode Indicator/Leadership Behaviour Indicator (4Mat Aust.), Lencioni’s 5 Dysfunctions of a Team, The Leadership Practices Inventory, Benchmarks and Skillscope (CCL), Political Intelligence and Conversational Intelligence®. Ros is also a certified Change Management Practitioner, an accredited practitioner in Human Instincts, an accredited Appreciation at Work facilitator and a certified Neurocoach and Neuroleader. Ros is a Certified Member of the Australian Human Resources Institute (CAHRI), a member of the Australian Institute of Training and Development (AITD) a Professional Member of the Australian Association for Psychological Type (AusAPT), a member of the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) and a member of the Neuroleadership Institute. She holds a Graduate Diploma in Human Resources from Deakin University, an Australian Human Resources Institute Professional Diploma in Human Resources and has completed the Australian Graduate School of Management Executive Program, Strategic Human Resource Management.
In addition to Ros’ own blog, she is a regular contributing writer for Leaders in Heels, The Huffington Post, “Thrive Global”, and “People Development” Magazine. Ros’ business story is showcased in the 2014 book “Australian Entrepreneur”. In 2016 Ros released her bestselling and award nominated book “The Resilient Employee: The essential guide to coping with change and thriving in today’s workplace”.
Shaping Change has been a finalist in the Australian Small Business Champions Awards every year since 2015, and in 2015 Ros was a winner in the Australian Edupreneur Awards (Business Consulting category). In 2016, 2017, and again in 2018, Ros was awarded Leadership Coach of the Year – Australia by Corporate LiveWire in their global Innovation and Excellence Awards. In 2020 Ros was a finalist in the prestigious Telstra Business Women’s Awards. In 2021 Shaping Change was a finalist in the Australian Institute of Training and Development Training Awards for the best Diversity and Inclusion program. In 2022 Corporate LiveWire awarded Shaping Change Executive Coaching Service of the Year – Australia and Ros was a finalist in the inaugural Australian Women’s Small Business Champions Awards. In 2022, in a career highlight, Ros was a recipient of a World of Difference Award from The International Alliance for Women (TIAW). These awards recognise extraordinary women and men from around the world who have contributed to the economic empowerment of women.