Change management

18 November 2020

Businesses cannot stay static forever. Regardless of the industry, age, or size of a company, it’s rarely smart to remain unchanging.

As the world changes and industries adapt over the years, so too must your company and business.

Many successful companies will define one main contributing factor to their accomplishments.

This is the ability to adapt and change.

Industry competition can heat up, business challenges become too tough to handle. This is the time to consider change management. Don’t get left behind. 

What is change management?

Change management refers to a process of changes in a company. It starts with proposing changes to a company and finishes with establishing them as the new status quo.

This process can be large or small, though roughly adheres to the same process regardless of size.

Two examples of change management showcase how, regardless of size, the process involves many people within a business.

Example 1

A team member believes that their current kitchen/cafeteria amenities aren’t good enough. They want higher-quality coffee machines and more modern vending machines. They believe they would be greatly beneficial to their team. They’ve decided this after frequently discussing it with their team.

They research these new amenities, including costs, ease of installation and removing the old machines. They propose this to their manager or HR team. They convince their superiors of the benefits. These including heightened motivation, higher energy efficiency and improving the company image. Then, the process begins of changing these machines.

Within a small company, this could include changing one or two machines. Within a large company, this could include negotiating deals with providers to replace dozens of machines.

Example 2

A senior director believes that the business should expand. They see potential with consulting & advice services to go along with their specialist software. They may have had a customer service or tech team fulfilling this purpose before. Yet they believe the change of expanding to a completely new facet of business would be beneficial.

The director performs market research. They investigate potential competitors. They begin a project to receive feedback from existing clients. Once they confirm their beliefs for potential business, they compile their findings. They present them to their fellow directors and other senior employees within the team.

There is a lengthy process, including marketing campaigns raising the idea of these new services. After, the director’s consulting & advice services begin production. This includes many different stages. These include hiring new talent and reforming the company's in-house staff. It also includes conducting thorough training.

Within a small company, this process could take months or years. It could see them compete for a foothold in the industry. Ultimately, it could create synergy between their original software and their new services. Within a large company, this process could begin a new chapter in the business that could last for decades.

Types of change management

No matter the goals or scope of the changes, the same management processes will largely follow the same essential stages.

These stages may fall into specific types of change management.

There are many different types of change management. These range from the ADKAR model to Kurt Lewin’s change management model.

Each serves as exceptional guidelines to businesses.

These can be effective change management processes, varying on the size or intention of a team or company. These models follow the following steps:

ADKAR model

The ADKAR model is goal-orientated, one that guides both individuals within a company and the company itself.

ADKAR is an acronym, it stands for ‘awareness’, ‘desire’, ‘knowledge’, ‘action’ and ‘reinforcement’.  

  • Awareness: otherwise known as the ‘pre-contemplation’ stage. Establishing an understanding of why changes are important is essential. This must clear to employees before beginning the change management process. It is important, regardless of an employee’s level in the company.
  • Desire: otherwise known as the ‘contemplation’ stage. Processing the importance of changes and ensuring that employees want the proposed changes to the company.
  • Knowledge: otherwise known as the ‘preparation’ stage. Ensure that whoever the changes are affecting understand how to perform their updated roles.
  • Action: otherwise known as the ‘action’ stage. Confirming that those responsible for implementing changes are fully capable of completing them.
  • Reinforcement: otherwise known as the ‘maintenance’ stage. Reviewing the changes made and confirming that they are effective and helpful. This stage also opens the opportunity for investigating whether to make any more changes.

Lewin’s model

Lewin’s change management model is more extensive than the ADKAR model. It presents the process of change with the analogy of melting and refreezing ice.

It uses the idea that something has to break down from its original state to build a new state. This is where the concept of ‘unfreeze’, ‘change’ and ‘freeze’ comes in. 

  • Unfreeze: you must first determine what needs changing and present these changes to senior management. Once you’ve presented a valid case, complete with why the company needs the changes. You need to consider how to manage and handle any concerns with the proposed changes.
  • Change: next is the long process of implementing these changes. This includes dispelling any concerns about how the changes affect employees or rumours of why the changes are being made. Beyond this, you must ensure that you provide support and direction to those actioning these changes.
  • Freeze: finally there are the stages of solidifying the changes within the company. Identifying and supporting those that maintain these changes is essential. This includes ensuring that the changes become the status quo in future training.

Key features of change management

These models involve many similar factors. Some models, such as the Bridges’ transition model, are most effective on a one-to-one, personal level.

However, some of the factors within these models can apply to any change management exercise.

For example, the theory behind ‘the neutral zone’ in Bridges’ transition model helps to address certain concerns. These include employees experiencing low morale when going through the process of change.

Long-term change management will have four main characteristics:

  • Scale: this answers the question of how large the change management plan The model can vary, if it focuses on changing team members on an individual level or if the management activity will affect the entire company.
  • Magnitude: this explores how significant the effects of change will be. This is where change management challenges often crop up, asking how drastic the changes are to a company’s status quo.
  • Duration: this characteristic examines how long the change takes, step by step. It can plan out whether the change will take place over weeks, months, or even years.
  • Strategic importance: this stage explores how the change will encourage employees. It involves outlining how useful the changes will be. If employees don’t embrace the change process, it’s likely that the initiatives fail.

There are several change management models a company can use when trying to put changes in place.

Regardless of which types of organisational approach a company takes, there’s one key factor to the success of any significant change.

The human element.

Create a clear, communication plan that makes your goals and expectations easy to understand by your workforce. This is essential to successfully implementing changes and improvements.

Failing to do so will undermine even the most effective of change management plans. After all, a company or business only changes as much as the people within it allow.

What is the difference between change management and project management?

How people enact changes make a big difference between organisational change management types.

Project management focuses on how to exercise and process a project. This includes working on new software and organising the proper team.

Project management essentially involves the tools required to perform change management initiatives.

On the other hand, change management implementation plans focus on how changes affect the people within a company or business.

The results of project management ultimately create change management tools and techniques. These tools and techniques mean the difference between attempting and completing significant changes.

Effective help with change management

The stress of developing significant changes can be difficult to overcome. This is true whether you’re beginning a new project or you’re becoming overwhelmed by mounting challenges from a process.

Everyone can use help from time to time.

This is why Peninsula’s expertise is available for businesses, large or small.

From HR advice to establishing training, Peninsula can provide the right help.

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