Change management is the process of preparing, supporting, and helping individuals, teams, and organisations to make a change. Effective change management is crucial for the success of any change initiative, as it helps to minimise resistance and maximise engagement. In this column, I’ll discuss some key change management techniques that managers and organisations can use to successfully implement change.
The most important aspect when making any change is communication. This ensures your team is aware of the change, why it’s being carried out and the timeframe for the process. Communication reduces confusion and misunderstanding, allows employees to ask questions and gain reassurance and encourages them to come on board with the change.
Plan for resistance
Very few people like change and you’re likely to encounter some resistance during the change process. It’s important to anticipate and manage resistance as it arises and identify potential sources of resistance through surveys and conversations with staff. Once sources of resistance have been identified, address them by providing employees with information, training or other resources to help them understand and cope with the change.
Involve your human resource team
Involve HR when you’re making an organisational change. Many managers started as care workers before working their way up the career ladder so if there are any gaps in knowledge, HR can support with training to help implement a big change. HR can also play a huge role in ensuring that positive communication channels are set up so employees know why the change is happening in a way that is tailored to their needs.
Get your employees involved
Employee involvement is crucial for successful change management. Employees who are involved in the change process are more likely to understand and support the change. Get employees involved in the planning and implementation stages of the change. This can be achieved with employee focus groups, surveys or other methods.
Monitor and provide feedback
Monitoring and feedback will ensure your change project is on track and issues are identified and addressed promptly. Establish a system for monitoring and feedback, such as regular progress reports, team meetings or check-ins. Gathering honest feedback from those going through the change means you can review and adjust as needed.
Create a ‘change team’ or ‘change lead’
Appointing a dedicated lead or team can help to mitigate resistance by providing a clear point of contact for employees and encouraging collaboration and teamwork. This person or team can be responsible for managing communication, addressing concerns, and providing training and support as needed.
Utilise change management tools
There are several change management models that organisations can use to guide their change initiatives. I've listed some of the more beneficial ones I have used or read about below.
- Lewin’s Change Management Model. Developed by Kurt Lewin, this model is one of the most widely used change management models. It consists of three stages: unfreezing, changing, and refreezing. The unfreezing stage creates a sense of urgency and readiness for change, the changing stage means implementing the change, and the refreezing stage combines the change and makes it permanent.
- The Kotter 8-Step Change Model. Developed by John Kotter, this model is widely used and focuses on:
- Creating a sense of urgency.
- Forming a powerful coalition.
- Creating a vision for change.
- Communicating the vision.
- Empowering others to act on the vision.
- Creating short-term wins.
- Consolidating gains.
- Anchoring new approaches in the company's culture.
- The SCARF model is a framework for understanding social motivations in the workplace and how they drive behaviour during times of change. It was developed by David Rock, a researcher and consultant in the field of neuroscience and leadership. The acronym SCARF stands for Status, Certainty, Autonomy, Relatedness, and Fairness. Each of these five domains represents a fundamental human need that is either threatened or supported by the change.
- McKinsey 7-S Model. Developed by McKinsey & Company, this model considers the organisation as a whole, and looks at seven key elements: strategy, structure, systems, skills, staff, style and shared values. The model helps organisations to understand how these elements are interconnected and how changes in one area will affect the others.
Further reading on these frameworks will support you to plan, implement and evaluate change.
Changes within a team or organisation need to be carefully considered and planned. However, following these tips and working closely with HR can increase the chances of successful change implementation by minimising resistance and maximising engagement.