The change management process is the key to initiating organizational change and promoting upcoming shifts as the new normal.
The change management process can be a fickle one. For change efforts to be successful, leaders need to understand the inner complexities of how change happens, the challenges that come with such efforts, and how to successfully implement change.
In this article, we explore how the change management process better equips your organization to implement coming changes in the following topics:
- What is Change Management?
- The Change Management Process
- Creating a Plan for Change
- Reframing the Challenges of Organizational Change
What is Change Management?
Change management is the formal term for the methodology that blends project management and change initiatives. This process helps organizations spearhead change in any capacity, allowing leaders to better navigate the challenges of enacting large-scale change.
Though organizational change isn’t easy, successful changes occur when the point of arrival is clearly established, and others are aptly motivated to change their behavior to reach this point. With ample engagement across the board, organizations will be able to enjoy a fairly stable journey towards change.
An important aspect of managing change is getting leadership and team buy-in from every level of the organization. For this change to happen, all parties need to feel the motivation to improve and have the support to do so.
The Change Management Process
Successful changes don’t happen without a plan. Without a strategy for success, you’ll experience the negatives of failed change initiatives, such as anxiety, fear, and low adoption. Investing in the change management process will help you identify the most effective ways to implement change. This will mitigate the risks, allowing you to have a clear path forward.
Change management models have long been the standard for kick-starting and maintaining organizational changes. This discipline includes the best plans and processes that will reduce the negative aspects of introducing change.
Today’s change management practices focus on mitigating the challenge of creating organizational change. Change management as a methodology originated in the 1940s and was soon adopted by organizations as a tried and true approach to creating lasting change.
One of the earlier change management models is Kurt Lewin’s 3-step model. Kurt Lewin’s 3-Step Model focuses on unfreezing, changing, and refreezing. This model allows team members to best understand and accept the change management process in three steps:
Making any type of change starts with the initial process of unfreezing. As most people are naturally resistant to change, the unfreezing stage highlights how the current status quo is hurting an organization. This unfreezing process helps team members associate old behaviors, patterns, and processes with an urgent need for change.
Once an organization is unfrozen, it can begin the change. Lewin’s idea of change is when the organization actively transitions to the new state. Thus the changing stage also includes the implementation of change.
For a change to take place, all stakeholders must welcome and accept the new reality. At this point, communication, education, and support are crucial for an organization to step into its new change.
The final stage of Lewin’s cycle of change is refreezing or reinforcing the new changes. This organizational change must be accepted as the new normal. Positive reinforcements are an effective way to encourage new behavior and cement the change for good.
Similar approaches like the Prosci 3-Phase Process help to facilitate a more customized approach to change. This process defines the high-value actions to take to achieve the greatest change success. The Prosci methodology uses three steps:
- Prepare Approach
- Define Success
- Define Impact
- Define Approach
- Manage Change
- Plan and Act
- Track Performance
- Adapt Actions
- Sustain Outcomes
- Review Performance
- Activate Sustainment
- Transfer Ownership
Creating a Plan for Change
Change management plans are a detailed account of how to best move forward with an upcoming change. These plans are typically developed during the planning stage of the change management process.
Consider these eight steps of effective change management in your plan for change:
1. Identify What to Improve
The most successful changes begin with actionable plans for improvements. As you begin the change management process, it’s best to first identify and clarify your goals by determining the resources needed to facilitate the change.
2. Get All Stakeholders on Board
Getting buy-in for every aspect of the change is the next step in beginning a new initiative. Stakeholders include all members of an organization, from C-suite executives to each team member.
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3. Plan for a Change
Planning for the change is the next critical step in a change management process. Create an actionable plan to identify the beginning of the change, the journey for the upcoming change, and where you hope to be once the change takes place. At this time, you’ll integrate the necessary resources, identify the scope of the change, and determine their related costs. This process should also include smaller actions that allow for a multi-step approach to change-making.
4. Provide Resources for Evaluation
In planning for change management, it’s important to solidify the resources necessary to facilitate the change. This includes funding, training, equipment, software systems, and anything else that is necessary to create sustainable change.
Communication is a key part of the change management process. To identify, plan, onboard, and execute the right strategy, you’ll need to thoughtfully and intentionally determine how to best communicate your plan. In organizational change, it’s essential to consider the sociological and psychological challenges at hand. By offering open lines of communication during the change process, you’ll allow team members the opportunity to discuss their thoughts, worries, and fears ahead of a major shift.
6. Consider Resistance and Identify Risks
The change management process has to include a plan for managing any resistance to the change. While resistance is a normal part of implementing a change, it can also be the reason your change initiative fails.
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Identify the risks as you consider how to mitigate the resistance to your upcoming change. By expecting the worst and preparing for it, you’ll be able to strengthen your strategy for change.
7. Celebrate Success
Change is hard work. Celebrating the success of your journey every step of the way is important. As you manage change through its lifecycle, make it a point to honor the hard work and efforts of all those involved. This type of recognition is key in boosting morale and accelerating the adoption of the change management process and the upcoming shift as a whole.
8. Revise and Review
An important part of the change management process is change itself. Don’t be afraid to review and revise your strategy throughout the transition. As you review your ongoing change management process, be sure to constantly identify and remove any issues or roadblocks.
Reframing the Challenges of Organizational Change
The biggest challenge to making a change is the resistance leaders face. Change usually comes as a shock and can be incredibly stressful to team members. Oftentimes, this situation causes employees to be unwilling to solidify changes in an organization and even become angry about the pending transitions.
As you work to create a cohesive change management plan, it’s essential to identify and alleviate any resistance by highlighting the upside of change: the opportunity for innovation.
Innovation should be at the core of any change as an organization works to spearhead initiatives that allow for a better future. Any effort towards increasing innovation must begin with a clear-cut approach to making change.
Start leading the change in your organization by becoming an expert in the change management process. Learning the ins and outs of change management will help you better anticipate change, implement the proper strategies, and sustain the necessary momentum in your upcoming initiatives.
Are you and your team struggling with an organizational change? We help leaders and teams thrive through change! Contact us at Voltage Control to begin the first steps in the change management process.