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Successful change management in your business

Why an effective change management process is crucial to employee health

In every business, there will come a time when new elements are introduced into the company, and you will need to make adjustments accordingly. Successfully doing so is called change management. A defined change management process is instrumental in preserving sustained growth and employee satisfaction during transitions.

Table of contents

1. What is change management?

2. What are the 5 elements of change management?

2.1. Understand the change

2.2. Create acceptance of change

2.3. Develop solutions

2.4. Create commitment

2.5. Monitor changes

3. What change management models are there?

3.1. Kotter’s 8 step model of change management

3.2. The 7S framework

3.3. Lewin’s 3 stage model of change

What is change management?

Change management is the process of responding to any sort of higher-level transition within an organization. These can be changes in overall goals, day-to-day processes, the introduction of new technologies, or another change with a large impact on employees and/or their work.

Because such changes often come with a lot of uncertainty, a robust change management plan is essential. That’s because 62% of people feel negatively about organizational change to begin with. So deciding on and undergoing a change management process is a crucial step towards mitigating your employees’ concerns.

Any change management process aims to help employees understand what is changing and why, as well as help them adapt. In the best case scenario, people will not only understand but be excited about organizational change.

Organizational change management is not something your business can ignore in a world that constantly presents new challenges. In addition to helping employees adjust, change management reduces the cost of necessary changes, strengthens collaboration between team members, and improves productivity since everyone understands their role.

Your change management plan will likely come into play during:

  • Developmental changes: These are organizational changes that improve or optimize existing processes within your business.
  • Transitional changes: A transitional change is one that involves an organization entering a new state, such as when merging with or being acquired by another company.
  • Transformational changes: Transformational changes happen when there is a pronounced shift in the culture or core values of your business.

A thorough change management process is also important during times of crisis. These situations necessitate a fast reaction of your part, which is why having a framework in place is incredibly useful. While individual styles may be different, every change management plan aims to accomplish the same things.

Employees gathered around a desk and talking

What are the 5 elements of change management?

Successful change management processes accomplish five things. To successfully integrate a workplace change, you will need to:

  1. Help employees understand why the change is happening
  2. Nudge employees towards accepting said change
  3. Develop solutions with individual team members
  4. Create a commitment to supporting the change
  5. Monitor the effects of the change

Understand the change

No matter what is changing, it is important to explain the impact and reason for the decision. You should frame everything in terms of how it will affect the employee in question. For example, if you are introducing regular safety inspections to a construction site, highlight how this will lead to fewer accidents and promote safety.

More communication is always better. Remember to inform strategically; make sure managers know about and can effectively implement a planned organizational change before other employees, to minimize confusion. Before introducing change to your business, you might even consider holding a roundtable where employees can directly ask questions.

Create acceptance of change

Successfully introducing a change means involving anyone affected. Your employees all have roles to play in facilitating change management, and the earlier you can integrate their input, the better.

If possible, give employees an opportunity to influence the change. In the construction site example, your employees can help shape the inspection process. Show them the inspection criteria, ask them if anything is missing, and familiarize them with your inspection tools.

Soliciting feedback and asking for opinions helps your employees feel respected. And collecting data about the way organizational change is progressing and the issues associated is key to improving processes.

Develop solutions

Asking for feedback in the previous step gave you an overview of your employees’ concerns. Now, you need to address those concerns. Allowing everyone in your company to shape the change leads to a solution uniquely appropriate for your company.

This is also the step where you would train team members and make sure they can navigate any new software or process that you are introducing. You can hold workshops to explain these tools. Change management workshops are also a good way to demonstrate how you’ve implemented feedback.

Create commitment

Listening to and incorporating employee concerns when undergoing change in the workplace is crucial to bringing everyone into alignment. It is not enough to have new processes in place, you need your employees to be enthusiastic about following them.

If you have approached change by highlighting its benefits to employees, creating commitment should be simple. Your aim is for team members to agree with you about the necessity of change.

It can still be important to obtain explicit commitment, so that it is easier for teams to work together. If one team member is not on board with the new process, this could inhibit smooth collaboration. And when there is a formal agreement made, it is easier to enforce the transition.

Monitor changes

Implementing a change that employees are excited about is not the end of the change management process. You need to measure the impact somehow. Organizational change is about employee satisfaction as much as it is about optimizing performance, so it is important to measure both.

In addition to measuring business KPIs and assessing how well you’ve met targets, observe the impact your change has had on employees and on the relationships between employees. You can use employee feedback forms and peer evaluation surveys to learn about the effects new developments are having. If the feedback shows that employees are still encountering issues, offer support.

To help accomplish these five pillars of change management, managers often follow a change management model. This way, abstract concepts become actionable steps.

A workshop held in a meeting room and led by management

What change management models are there?

Businesses use a change management model to plan ahead and structure the change management process. There are many models out there, all with varying stages and ways of conceptualizing the five elements of change management.

Kotter’s 8 step model of change management

The most common change management model in use is Kotter’s 8 steps for leading change, which is divided into 8 employee-focused stages. The stages of Kotter’s model are:

  1. Urgency: Creating a sense that organizational change is urgent helps to motivate employees.
  2. Team building: Figure out what skills and personalities are most useful in effecting change.
  3. Vision: Clarify what exactly is changing and how the change should happen.
  4. Communicate: Be transparent with all your employees and answer questions honestly.
  5. fFeedback: Start the process by learning how employees feel about the change, and try to smooth over any roadblocks.
  6. Goal-setting: Set multiple short-term goals that you can check off as you work your way towards greater organizational change.
  7. Sustained growth: Keep looking into your processes and ways of working for things that can be improved and ways you can deepen the change.
  8. Shifting corporate culture: For change to last, it should be the new normal, a good way to achieve this is by highlighting it across every area of your company.

Kotter’s 8 step model is so widely used because it is easy to follow and it focuses on the employee response to change, rather than the change itself. It also heavily emphasizes communication, which is a vital aspect of efficiency.

The 7S framework

A second change management model is the 7S framework, which unlike Kotter’s model, addresses each category that a given change could impact. That way, businesses can define these dimensions before proceeding.

The areas considered by the 7S framework are:

  • Strategy: What is the change management procedure you are following?
  • Structure: How is your organization divided and what is the hierarchy?
  • Systems: What are the systems you use to complete day-to-day tasks?
  • Shared values: What are the core values that impact the way your company works?
  • Style: How will you approach introducing the change?
  • Staff: Who are your employees and what are their capabilities?
  • Skills: What skills are present in your organization?

By considering all of these areas before and while transformations happen, you’ll end up with a stable infrastructure. Every one of the 7S factors is important for change management.

Lewin’s 3 stage model of change

Perhaps the simplest change management model is Lewin’s change management model. With only three stages, the model breaks down the major components of change management. Lewin’s three stages are:

  1. Unfreeze. This is the period before a change, where employers prepare their employees. The stage is characterized by open communication and mitigating employee concerns.
  2. Change. This is the period of adjustment, while change is being implemented, where employees are trained and can get used to any new aspects of their work.
  3. Refreeze. This starts after change is accepted, and new adjustments become routine. Ideally, refreeze is an ongoing step and new ways of working remain after current objectives are achieved.

When you’re developing a change management plan, Lumiform can help. You can use a digital checklist to make it clear what is required from employees as a result of the change, as well as track how regularly those requirements are completed. It is also easy to collect suggestions and feedback from employees.

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