Implement Change with a Change Management Strategy
What is a change management strategy?
Change management involves making sure new organizational processes are implemented according to plan. Most types of change management strategies include company or department-wide processes that impact more than one employee. Individuals in different roles or departments often view change management differently. An IT project manager, for example, would view it as process changes for gaining approval on a project’s budget. Support technicians in the IT department may view changes to processes involving the approval of software installations as part of a change management plan. A plan and change management strategy is usually necessary when a new organizational program or event will impact one of the following:
- The nature of the organization.
- What roles individual employees fulfill.
- How individual employees fulfill their roles.
The change management process contains several steps. According to the Kotter change management model, the number of change management steps is eight. The steps involve communicating a sense of urgency, forming a team, creating a vision, communicating that vision, removing identified obstacles, aiming for short-term goals or successes, allowing the change to mature, and integrating the change. While Kotter’s model is not the only one organizational leaders can use, it serves as a testament to the complex and evolving nature of the organizational change process.
The History of Change Management Models
Over the years, various theorists have created different change management process steps. Leaders and managers can use these models as a guide or starting point. They might also want to perform a change management models comparison to see which change process model would work best for their situations. The Lewins change management model, the Kotter change management model, and the ADKAR model are three of the most prominent theories.
The Lewins model consists of three stages. Those three stages are unfreezing, change, and freezing. While the model was created in the late 1940s, its steps are still relevant to modern organizations. The first stage involves unfreezing or prepping employees for change. In order for organizational change management strategies to be successful, employees need to know that change will be happening, why the change is necessary, when the change will occur, and how they will be impacted.
Once employees are aware of the impending change, everyone in the organization needs to work on the transition process. This stage involves implementing the actual change. During the change stage, employees will need additional support, guidance, and encouragement. Leaders should expect a learning curve and be ready to guide employees who get off track.
The final stage in the Lewins model is called “freezing.” This stage occurs after the organization has implemented the change. Freezing involves creating stability as employees get used to the change and establishing the new process as an accepted norm. In many cases, the freezing stage can take longer than the change itself.
While Kotter’s Change Management Theory has already been briefly discussed, leaders should understand the model’s steps in detail. Creating a sense of urgency is similar to the “unfreeze” stage in the Lewins model. The first step involves communicating the need for change to employees, but also the need for the organization to take immediate action.
The second step in Kotter’s model is to build a team. This means selecting the people who will be able to guide, coordinate, and communicate the different actions involved in the change management strategy. The size of the team will often be dependent upon the nature and scope of the change.
Kotter’s third and fourth steps are interrelated. These steps involve creating an overarching vision and communicating that vision. The vision incorporates how the organization will move from where it is now to where it will go. Leaders can include multiple dependent objectives and initiatives in a single vision.
Removing identified obstacles involves getting rid of the things that stand in the way of the change. This could mean inefficiencies and structures that prevent employees from freely doing their jobs. Once the obstacles are gone, leaders should recognize short-term results and successes to keep the momentum going. Allowing the change to mature and integrating the change are steps similar to Lewin’s “freeze” stage.
The ADKAR model is a more recent change management theory that emphasizes organizational goals. Each of the letters in the model’s name stands for tangible deliverables that employees need for successful change management. The deliverables or outcomes include awareness of the need to change, desire to support the change, knowledge of how to implement the change, an ability to exhibit skills and behaviors and reinforcement to make the change permanent.