No organisation can afford to stand still. There are always new challenges to meet, and better ways of doing things. However, every change you need to make should be planned and implemented with care, otherwise, it could end up doing more harm than good!
That’s where Change Management comes in. It’s a structured approach that ensures changes are implemented thoroughly and smoothly – and have the desired impact.
What Is Change Management?
Change management draws on theories from many disciplines, including psychology, behavioural science, engineering, and systems thinking. And there are many different models to choose from. For example, Lewin’s Change Management Model splits the change process into three key stages known as “unfreeze-change-refreeze,” while Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model provides a more comprehensive guide through change.
A central idea of all Change Management theories is that no change ever happens in isolation. In one way or another, change impacts the whole organisation and all of the people in it. But with good Change Management, you can encourage everyone to adapt to and embrace your new way of working.
The Four Principles of Change Management
- Understand Change.
- Plan Change.
- Implement Change.
- Communicate Change.
Principle 1: Understand Change
To successfully promote the benefits of the change, you need to understand them yourself. So, think about:
- Why you need to change. What are your key objectives?
- What will the benefits of the change be to the organisation?
- How will it impact people positively?
- How will it affect the way that people work?
- What will people need to do to successfully achieve the change?
It can also be helpful to think about what the negative outcomes of not making the change would be. Beckhard and Harris’ Change Equation shows that, for change to work, there has to be sufficient dissatisfaction with the old way of doing things. But people also need to feel confident that the new approach will be better – and that there’s a clear route to get there.
Principle 2: Plan Change
Effective change doesn’t just happen by chance, and any plan you make has to be right for your organisation. The way that change projects are managed can vary from organisation to organisation. Some have very rigid change methodologies, while others are more open and flexible in their approach.
However, in general, you’ll need to consider the following:
- Sponsorship. How will you secure, engage and use high-level support and sponsorship of the change?
- Involvement. Who is best positioned to help you to design and implement the change? For example, will you need external expertise? Or can you use internal resources?
- Buy-in. Change is most effective when you are able to win support from people across the business. How do you plan to achieve this?
- Impact. Finally, think about what success should look like. How will you predict and assess the impact of the change that you need to make? What goals do you need to achieve?
Principle 3: Implement Change
So how exactly are you going to make change happen?
As we’ve seen, there are many different strategies that you can choose to put your change into practice. Kotter’s 8-Step Change Model, for example, explains how to inject a sense of urgency into your actions, so that you build momentum and encourage everyone to get behind your changes.
Meanwhile, the Change Curve reminds you to be mindful of people’s feelings while putting your plan into action. It shows the stages that we all tend to go through during organisational change – from shock and denial, to the point where we’re fully invested in the new approach.
Principle 4: Communicate Change
Communication can be a make-or-break component of change management. The change that you want to implement has to be clear and relevant, so people understand what you want them to do and why they need to do it. But you also have to set the right tone, so that you get the emotional reaction you’re hoping for.
It’s a good idea to link the changes that you’re planning to your organisation’s mission or vision statements. Not only will this help people to see how the change positively impacts the bigger picture, but it will also provide them with an inspiring, shared vision of the future.
Also, be sure to practice good stakeholder management. This will ensure that you give the right people the right message, at the right time, to get the support that you need for your project.
What Can Prevent Change?
Even the best-laid plans can suffer setbacks, so be ready for problems when they arise. Some people may be pessimistic about your plans, so you’ll need to acknowledge, understand and address any resistance or “immunity” to change.
You may even come up against cultural barriers to change. If your organisational culture doesn’t embrace change – or even pushes against it – you’ll have to find ways to reward flexibility, create role models for change, and repeat your key messages until the mood starts to improve.
Change management is a structured approach to implementing change in an organisation. It recognises that change can be a painful process that can have a far-reaching impact on the organisation and the people who work for it.
There are four key principles of change management:
- Understand Change: for change to be effective, you need to understand all the “ins and outs” of the change. For example, what it is, how it will be achieved, and why it needs to happen.
- Plan Change: this can include achieving high-level sponsorship of the change project, as well as identifying wider involvement and buy-in opportunities.
- Implement Change: when you come to carry out your plan, you need to ensure that everyone involved knows what they’re doing. This may encompass addressing training needs, appointing “change agents,” providing support for people across the organisation, and setting specific success criteria.
- Communicate Change: everyone needs to know why the change is happening, feel positive about it, and understand how they can achieve success.
How can Aspira Help:
Bring change concepts to life and learn how to effectively implement change with our new Change Management training courses:
Aspira are pleased to offer these courses are part of our professional development training service. Our courses are designed to provide basic and advanced change management instruction, to meet the needs of a broad spectrum of individual professional development needs. This interactive and engaging training program will be of specific interest to all leaders as well as change management, project management, human resources, and business process professionals who are often asked to participate in or lead change initiatives. To book a training course, please contact Aspira for the next available dates.
Gillian Whelan, Head of Training