Change Management: What It Is and Why It's Important
Change is a fundamental part of every company and is how businesses grow and evolve to be more successful. It is important for those who implement change to move the process along efficiently. Effectively enacting change management can help employees achieve a common goal and boost the advancement of a company as a whole. In this article, we will define change management and discuss why it’s important to an organization’s success.
What is change management?
Change management is a broad term used to define various ways in which an organization prepares and implements change. Most change management implementations focus on how employees accept and adapt to a new way of doing things. Whether the change is simple or complex, the primary aim is to ensure the implementation moves the organization closer to its objectives.
Change management can apply to nearly any aspect of change within the workplace. Examples include altering business processes, budgeting, resource usage and operational tactics used in your company’s day-to-day affairs. It can also refer to changes on a personal level, such as promoting and training an employee to take on a larger role within your company.
Levels of change management
Change management can be separated into three categories. It is important to know these categories to better implement change management within your organization on both an individual and company-wide level.
1. Individual change management
The success of new procedures or policies within a workplace begins with and depends on the individuals who make up the company. Individual change management requires an understanding of what motivates people to change and how you can incorporate this into your day-to-day business operations. You will have to consider what processes to use to make your team more willing to accept a change in their roles or tasks.
2. Organizational change management
While individuals have a primary role in any change, looking at long-term goals is a fundamental part of implementing lasting change on a company-wide level. Organizational change management is often used in the project management process to ensure that the solutions derived during the project are incorporated in a lasting way. This may include identifying the teams that will be directly affected by the change, making the team aware of the change and then training them on the proper way to implement the change.
3. Enterprise change management
This level of change management restructures every aspect of an organization. It affects the leadership, projects, procedures, roles, processes and organizational structure. If you are planning an enterprise change program, you will need all levels of your organization to accept the change. This will allow for more flexibility to create a new organization optimized to achieve your company’s goals.
Types of change within a business
A company can experience several different types of change, all of which can be better executed through change management procedures. Knowing the type of change that your company is experiencing or requires can help you better decide which change management method to use.
Common types of organizational change include:
Developmental change: This type of change can include any improvement on existing operations within a company.
Transitional change: Transitional changes happen when a business makes a transition into a new state of being. An example of transitional change is when one company merges with another.
Transformational change: This is the most drastic form of change within a business and is when a company decides to completely revise its current way of doing things. For example, an organization may introduce new products that are different from anything it has developed before.
Importance of change management within an organization
Change within a company is a part of a business’s growth and overall success. Every company that lasts will go through change on various levels and in various ways. When an organization as a whole is unable to adequately manage change, the result can be detrimental to the company and cause stress and unnecessary work.
Change management works to help every level of your company manage and succeed in the face of both minor and major adjustments. As changes are incorporated into the workplace, change management ensures that your employees understand their new responsibilities and can perform tasks efficiently. Change management also helps your business as a whole remain viable due to its ability to grow and adapt to the current trends of the market.
How to implement a change management plan
A successful change management plan will consist of several stages and will remain flexible during each phase of the change. Incorporating change into your organization will affect not only your company as a whole but also everyone who is part of your business. Following these steps for implementing change management should allow you to keep your change program headed in the right direction while also remaining considerate of your employees.
A change program starts with educating your organization on how the change will affect operations. At this stage, you or the chosen sponsor must tell employees the effect of the change, the challenges of implementing the change and the benefits it will provide, especially regarding work environment improvements.
Engagement should target potential supporters as advocates of change, emphasizing the need for the transition. You or the sponsor also needs to relate with people who may not support the new process, identify their concerns and convince them to see things from their point of view. For more clarity, you, as the change leader, should perform a readiness assessment to determine your organization’s change readiness.
The planning stage involves the change management team partnering with major stakeholders in the teams, departments and individuals. It will require identifying the impact of change on work content, work environment, roles and the potential benefits for every employee and the organization.
The goal of the planning phase is to gather input from supporters and skeptics to create a workable plan that addresses the concerns of stakeholders without compromising the success of the program.
During the implementation stage, you or your change management team must actively engage every individual in the organization to make them support the change. You should deploy different communication strategies including formal announcements, meetings, emails and bulletin board notices to boost the success of the program.
For faster adoption, you can reward individuals and teams that quickly adopt the change successfully. This can increase awareness to encourage more acceptance and dedication to new practices.
It is often necessary to continue engaging employees to accept change and remain motivated to implement the change on a daily basis. Have a plan to assess goals, acceptance and rejection, success rates, rewards, consequences and other variables.
There should be a strategy to entrench the program into the company culture. Individual performance assessments can also be used to show how employees are transitioning from the old ways to the new processes.
Related: How To Engage Employees
Tips for change management success
Change management can be challenging for several reasons. For example, an organization may attempt to implement change when they are not ready or a company may not provide adequate support to allow its employees to adjust to the change in a successful way. Regardless of the scale of change in your company, the following tips can help boost the success of your program.
Make it people-facing
The success of your change program depends on the acceptance of your employees. It is important to consider the impact of your policies on the individuals who will be implementing these changes. While many stakeholders may support your initiative, if other employees resist, the project may not succeed.
Take it slow
If you are implementing a program that will affect roles, work conditions, the business model or organizational culture, you must give your people time to understand the implications of the new policies, accept them, adapt and practice the new program. Have a flexible plan that allows for input during implementation.
Establish a vision
Create a plan outlining what the future looks like if the organization supports the new policy. Describe the benefits and address the concerns of stakeholders as you implement the program.
Engage employees at all levels
Involve the people who the proposed change affects most in the planning and implementation of the project. With the right presentation, you can win their support and boost the success rate of the program.
While it is essential to use every communication channel to deliver your message to employees, you also need to listen to their concerns. Use all available means to get people to believe in your vision so they become willing supporters. However, be ready to accept honest feedback from employees, especially from those who the changes will affect directly. This provides valuable input that can improve the implementation and overall success of the proposed change.
Identify key stakeholders
Identify leaders across the organization and convince them to champion your cause at different levels of the company. This will save a lot of time and resources and improve the success of your program.
Create a change-friendly environment
Simplify change by identifying the reasons for resistance and addressing those concerns.
If you are planning a large-scale change program, start with a small pilot project. That way, you can demonstrate the benefits of the initiative, encourage adoption by rewarding participants and identify challenges when you roll out the main system.