Change management is the structured approach to and use of information, methods, and resources to tackle change. This includes identifying and implementing organizational strategies, processes, practices, and innovations for dealing with changes in external circumstances and the market climate. Change management's primary aim is to effectively incorporate new procedures, products, and market strategies while mitigating negative outcomes.
Effective change management goes beyond project management and technological activities performed to execute systemic changes and includes leading the "people side" of major change within an organization. Although it is also called the soft side of transition, the most difficult and important part of an organizational shift is always to handle the people side of a transition.
Many companies need to incorporate enterprise-wide changes impacting their systems, goods and employees to keep pace in a rapidly changing business environment. Today, transition is a part of life in businesses. This can be difficult and people always resist. Yet companies should adopt a structured approach to managing major change, to develop an agile workplace culture. Experts on organizational leadership have set out strategies to work through transition effectively.
Organizational leaders need to quickly identify and adapt to market changes and unforeseen challenges but most are unable to build an agile culture. But agile leadership — from CEOs to administrators at the line level — is separating high-performance from lower-performing organisations. Companies that consistently outperform rivals in terms of profitability, market share, sales growth and customer satisfaction showed far more agility than those with lower results.
During this decade, the pace of major organizational change has significantly increased. Global research and consulting firm Gartner estimate that the average company has experienced five organizational changes in the past three years and 73% of companies expect more reform efforts in the next few years. As reform programs have become more frequent and common, there has been credence about the importance of managing individuals through transition. Significant changes will impact all levels of organisations.
Many corporate leaders have concluded that it can be costly to struggle to handle workers through transition: employees who are dissatisfied or irritated by change are usually less successful. An employer who is serious about implementing change should create a communication strategy, a road map for supporters of change, coordinated training programs, and a resistance management plan.
Change management is a series of actions from a process perspective undertaken by a team leader on a specific project or initiative. It is the strategy and collection of plans for the given transition project, focusing on moving people through the change. An effective methodology includes preparing for change (where readiness assessments help guide the formulation of a strategy), managing change (where five change management plans integrate into the project plan) and reinforcing change (where compliance audits and mechanisms deploy to cement the change).
Change management matters because organizational change happens one person at a time, poorly managing change is costly and effective change management increases the likelihood of success. It takes a lot of time to alter attitudes and behaviours. Implementations of software, particularly massive ones, are easier to schedule and manage; project managers know when a module is checked or installed on the server. Some managers have a more difficult time evaluating progress; it can be hard to gauge the support. The employee raises another complaint just as it appears that a key individual opposes the reform and returns to old behaviours. Executives also presume that someone affected will find the business case so convincing they must embrace the new way of working automatically. Yet most people refuse or are resistant to adjust.
There are a few things an organisation can do to effectively carry out change management and they are as follows:
Define the change clearly and align it with company objectives. It may seem obvious but this first critical move is overlooked by many organisations. It is one thing to express the necessary change and quite another to carry out a thorough analysis of organizational goals and performance objectives to ensure the change can strategically, financially and ethically move the company in the right direction. This will also help you assess the value of the transition, which quantifies the effort and inputs that you will spend.
- What do we need to change?
- Why is this change required?
Determine impacts and those affected. When you know exactly what you want to accomplish and why you can then assess the impacts of the transition on various levels of the company. Review the impact on every unit of the company and how it cascades the entity through the organizational structure. This knowledge will begin to be the blueprint for where preparation and resources are most required to minimize the impacts.
• What are the impacts of the change?
• Who will the change affect the most?
• How will the change be received?
Develop a communication strategy. Although the change process will include all employees, the first two steps will have illustrated those employees to whom you definitely must communicate the change to. Determine for the group or individual the most efficient means of communication which will get them on board. The communication plan will provide a timetable for how the transition will be implemented incrementally, main messages and the contact channels and media that you expect to use.
• How will the change be communicated?
• How will feedback be managed?
Provide effective training. With the idea of change out in the open, your employees must know they are going to receive training, organized or informal, to develop the skills and knowledge needed to operate effectively as the change is being carried out. Training could include a series of online micro-learning modules, or a hybrid learning model that combines face-to-face training sessions or coaching and mentoring on-the-job.
• What behaviors and skills are required to achieve business results?
• What training delivery methods will be most effective?
Implement a support structure. Providing a support system is important to help workers adapt emotionally and functionally to the transition and develop behavioral and technological skills skills necessary to produce optimal business results. Some changes can result in redundancies or restructurings, so you might consider providing support to help people navigate the situation, such as counseling services. To help employees adapt to changes in the way a position is performed, a mentorship or an open-door policy with management could be created to ask questions when they arise.
• Where is support most required?
• What types of support will be most effective?
Measure the change process. A framework will be placed in place in the change management process to assess the market impact of the changes and to ensure that there are continued incentives for improving skills building. Your change management strategy will also be reviewed to assess its efficacy and to record any lessons learned.
• Did the change assist in achieving business goals?
• Was the change management process successful?
• What could have been done differently?
Bearing in mind that change management is not an easy task, organisations that dedicate themselves to follow the information above will carry out an effective change management process with ease.
- Prosci Change Management (2019). What is Change Management and How Does it Work? [online] Prosci.com. Available at: https://www.prosci.com/resources/articles/the-what-why-and-how-of-change-management.
- PulseLearning. (2017). PulseLearning. [online] Available at: https://www.pulselearning.com/blog/6-steps-effective-organizational-change-management/.
- SHRM. (2019). Managing Organizational Change. [online] Available at: https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/tools-and-samples/toolkits/pages/managingorganizationalchange.aspx.
Ifeoma is a Business Analytics and Research Consultant at Industrial Psychology Consultants (Pvt) Ltd, a business management and human resources consulting firm.
Phone: +263 242 481946-48/481950
Mobile: +263 775 187 283
Email: [email protected]
Main Website: www.ipcconsultants.com
View Ifeoma Obi's full profile