Change isn’t something that anyone likes. Whether adding new technology to your organization or expanding into a new area, change can cause disruption and headaches for everyone involved. Fortunately, there’s a way to make things as smooth as possible and stop organizational change from affecting your productivity - change management.
What Is Change Management?
Change management is a catch-all term encompassing anything that makes the process of change easier from both an individual and organizational perspective. It’s about preparations made in advance, support during the process, and keeping track of the side effects in order to minimize them.
Change management strategies are dependent on several factors, such as scope and time frames, to name a few. There is no “correct” way to go through a change. While there are change management models that can help you form a framework for your plan, they are general guidelines that you’ll need to expand upon with information about your circumstances.
Change Management Models - Some Examples
As mentioned before, there are some pre-existing models of change management that you can adapt for your own purposes.
Lewin’s change management model uses the idea of melting and refreezing an ice cube. It has three steps:
- Unfreeze - Removing the rigidity of your organization.
- Change - Implementing the change in question.
- Refreeze - Adapting your organization to the change such that it becomes the new normal.
The Kotter 8 Step Model is a well-known model that focuses on the team implementing the change rather than the process itself, best used in tandem with other plans.
The eight steps are to
- Create urgency in the team.
- Organize them.
- Create a vision.
- Get feedback from the team.
- Tackle obstacles.
- Create short-term wins.
- Use short-term wins to motivate the team to accelerate the process.
- Implement the change.
This acronym stands for Plan, Do, Check, Act/Adjust. It’s a cyclical model that is aimed at continuous improvement or refinement without a specific end goal in sight. This model creates a plan, tests it, then makes adjustments depending on the outcome. It can be used for both small and large-scale changes.
AKDAR is another model that focuses on the people rather than the process. An acronym, ADKAR’s letters stand for the five steps involved in the process:
- Awareness of the need for change
- Desire to engage with the change
- Knowledge of how to implement change
- Ability to implement the change
- Reinforcement or sustaining of the change
What Are The Steps Involved In Change Management?
While each model might take a unique approach, there are several key steps involved that they all include. Keep in mind that these steps aren’t linear. You can step back and revise things as needed, provided you have the ability. These steps are mostly aimed at longer-term, large-scale changes, so don’t feel the need to use them when you’re simply changing the font on your documents, for example.
The first step when implementing change is to prepare for it, and it’s not just in the physical sense. Those in the organization must be aware of the upcoming change, but above all, be aware of why it is happening. Of course, gathering logistical information is necessary too, but that can come after you’ve taken care of the social side.
Keeping people in the loop is a great way to not only keep them motivated but to gather information on how the planned change might affect them individually. It is absolutely crucial to keep employees and managers in the loop while also being open to suggestions so that important minor nuances can be addressed in the planning process as well.
B. Creating a plan
Once you’ve informed your team and gathered the information you need, it’s time to make a plan. When you’re doing this, you need to keep in mind the key factors involved with the change in question:
- what you want the change to achieve,
- where it will be taking place,
- why it’s being implemented.
There’s no use in altering the way your organization functions if you’re not going to get anything out of it, so keep your mind on those three specific ideas.
When you’re making your plan, the information you’ve previously gathered will show you potential roadblocks, things that will slow you down or even stop your plan from going forward. Take these into account in the planning stages, and think about how you can minimize disruption from them.
C. Implementing the plan
Now that your plan is ready, it’s time to set it in motion. Bear in mind that no matter how well you plan, you can’t always account for everything that can go wrong - there will be speed bumps and obstacles that crop up unexpectedly. If these pose major hurdles and can’t simply be sidestepped, return to the planning stage. You can often find alternate routes if your first route turns out to be inaccessible.
Implementing your plan isn’t simply a static thing; you’ve got to keep checking and getting feedback from your team and other impacted parties during the process. Reminding your team about why the specific change is occurring can help keep them motivated and on track during this process.
D. Reviewing and analyzing the outcome
Once everything is wrapped up, it’s time to reflect. Implementing the change doesn’t necessarily imply that you’ve succeeded. It is the outcomes that were expected from the change initiatives that matter! By analyzing the process and outcome of your plan, you can see what worked and what didn’t, giving you valuable insight into how things might work in the future.
Change isn’t something that you can just dive into, but hopefully, with the details laid out above, you’ll have some idea of where to start.
This is a guest blog by Efrat Vulfsons, CEO, PR Soprano.