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What Is Change Management?

What Is Change Management?

Change management is needed at all levels of a business to make it run at its very best. Organizational change itself is inevitable, so to ensure it brings about meaningful progress, it has to be managed effectively.  

As such, organizations need someone at the helm implementing change and putting strong change management skills into practice. These change agents will be responsible for finding win-win solutions that benefit businesses and the people working within them. 

If you’re interested in working in the rewarding world of change management, the best way to get your foot in the door is to work towards nationally recognized change management certifications

Defining change management


The question ‘what is change management?’ is a challenging concept to understand and is sometimes abbreviated as ‘CM.’  

Generally speaking, though, it’s all about the systematic transformation of a company, driven either by a guiding coalition or an individual change management agent. It is the job of these dedicated change leaders to plan the strategy meticulously, with a focus on value creation and finding win-win solutions. 

This is a process that can potentially affect all areas of a business, from top management teams to even the most minor working procedures. As such, any change initiatives that are implemented must be done so using effective resource management and the appropriate tools and resources. 

It is important to note that effective change management will look different for different organizations. Meaning that successful changes for ‘one business’ likely won’t translate ‘to success’ for another. 

The 3 types of change in business 

There are 3 broad types of change that organizational change management can bring about. So, if leading change in an organization is your dream, you’ll need to learn the key differences between these types and understand the varied requirements of each:

  • Major change: Also known as a ‘transformational change’ can completely alter a company’s structure and ways of working. 
  • Transitional change: In which change agents assist companies with mergers and acquisitions (M&A). 
  • Developmental change: Change management is used to improve established workflows and processes. 

Regardless of the type you choose, you must never forget about the people's side of change. Remember that a business is nothing without its employees, so you’ll need to think about how any adjustments will affect them and the way they work. 

What are the most popular change management models? 

In addition to the different types of organizational change, there are also different change models you’ll need to know about. Each change management model comes with its own approach to change initiatives and will require a unique set of change management tools. 

As a change agent, it will be up to you to decide which change management process is likely to work best for an organization. Here’s a quick overview of three of the most popular models:

1. The ADKAR Model 

The ADKAR Model is outcome-focused. It is centered on the belief that the success of any change project can only be achieved if the following outcomes are met:

  • Awareness.
  • Desire.
  • Knowledge.
  • Ability.
  • Reinforcement.

2. The Bridges Transition Model 

For a people-centric approach, consider the Bridges Transition Model, which places more emphasis on the way people adjust to change. It does so through a three-stage guiding framework, starting with ‘ending what currently is,’ moving people through the so-called ‘neutral zone,’ and finally pushing a business and its employees into a ‘new beginning.’ 

3. Kotter’s Change Model

The Kotter Change Model is built around 8 key steps:

  1. Creating a sense of urgency.
  2. Building a guiding coalition.
  3. Forming a strategic vision.
  4. Enlisting an army of volunteers.
  5. Removing barriers to enable action.
  6. Generating short term wins.
  7. Sustaining acceleration.
  8. Instituting change.

This model places a focus on people, processes, and transitions alike, so it’s a great way to go about implementing win-win solutions. 

Why does change need to be managed? 

At its core, change management should be all about making businesses more successful, but that won’t look the same for all organizations. So, an effective organizational transformation will need to be tailored and strategized from start to finish. 

Otherwise, those all-important win-win solutions will never be achieved. This is why you can’t expect good results if you don’t plan to change. Similarly, you can’t expect employees to get on board if you don’t instill a sense of urgency. 

Managing organizational change is as crucial to businesses in need of improvement as their long-term goals and overall structure. 

How to lead and manage change

All positive change has to start somewhere. To give yourself the best chance possible of kicking things off correctly and leading a company to consistent progress, you must take a structured approach. That way, you’ll always feel prepared for what’s up ahead.

Here are the key points to focus on when structuring your change management plan. Keep them in mind as you’re creating custom solutions and allocating change management resources: 

  • Preparing and planning.
  • Delegating.
  • Keeping the lines of communication open.
  • Coping with pushback.

Admittedly, this can be a big undertaking on your own, no matter how qualified you are. So, consider working with other management teams to help assure that change management success is achieved at every stage. 

What are some common reactions to change? 

Part of making change happen is anticipating employee reactions. You see, there are plenty of people who will resist change in favor of the status quo. 

These could be people in executive teams and leadership teams or they could be those in entry-level positions. Either way, it’s up to you to make them see that change is essential to the future of the business. 

Other people may simply be indifferent while others could be in denial that new approaches to change are needed. But, when an enterprise changes according to a strategy, that’s usually a sign of growth. 

That’s why change management success will depend largely on one’s ability to convince people that change is necessary for a business to compete, thrive, and survive.. 

1. WIFM: What’s in it for me?

Effecting change across a large organization is not an easy thing to do and, as mentioned above, it can be made much harder when people push back. So, for change to succeed, you will need to identify the ‘what’s in it for me?’ or WIFM.  

Everyone will wonder about the benefits of large-scale change. If they can’t identify any benefits for themselves, they will be far more likely to resist. So, successful change management cannot occur until you figure out what’s in it for employees at all levels. In other words, they need to know that change is a win-win situation and to understand the purpose of every small shift. 

Finding the WIFM isn’t just about being able to respond when people have questions, though. It’s also about generating energy and excitement about change so that people don’t have doubts to begin with. To do this, you have to build awareness of and communicate change in a way that lets everyone know exactly how beneficial your strategy has the potential to be. 

2. Sustaining change 

It’s no good introducing a change management plan and then leaving it to fizzle out. Change management professionals have to be able to see their initiatives through to the end. That’s because successfully implementing a strategy just won’t be possible without consistent monitoring from start to finish. 

3. Stakeholder involvement

It’s difficult to drive changes if you don’t get employees and other stakeholders onside. As such, you have to stay focused on the human side of change as a way of encouraging active and enthusiastic participation. 

You can garner support and motivate people to get involved in your strategy through things like employee training. It also helps if you acknowledge the different ways that people across a business will be affected by the changes, actively listen to any concerns they have, and know how to respond with a win-win solution. 

Individuals change and adapt to all sorts of new circumstances. However, they may need an extra push when it comes to transformation in the workplace. 

4. Resilience and resistance to change 

The success or failure of your large-scale change efforts will hinge on people’s resistance to change. So, it’s important to work at building up resilience within an organization by showing employees that they can grow stronger from the company-wide shifts that are about to happen. 

Not only will this make for a tougher workforce but it will help you with sustaining acceleration of your strategy. 

5. Lack of flexibility

Once a change strategy has been implemented for a business, the process that follows is likely to be nonlinear. So, while it is important to set out specific stages and goals, you have to accept that change in your organization will take twists and turns you may not be expecting. 

This is only natural, although it can be jarring. To ensure that you and the people around you are ready for the unexpected, prepare to be flexible, whether in the way you implement parts of your plan or how you communicate with the people around you. 

Why Courses for Success? 

Courses for Success offers over 10,000 online courses, all of which aim to help you in your personal development and career progression. Not only that, but you can also study them anywhere and at any time, and take them at your own pace, too.

You don’t need career diplomas or specific experience to get started. Every course we offer is created to be as accessible as possible. You can be sure that all of them, from our coding courses and trading courses to design courses and developer courses, will help to boost your prospects, no matter who you are.

Beyond just the education itself, students will be issued with a certificate online after successful completion of each of the learning courses they do. Our change management courses are no exception. Our change management online certificate short courses are recognized by industry leaders and you could really make a name for yourself in the business sector by signing up for a Courses for Success short course today.

As well as our change programs, we also offer courses on topics such as conflict resolution, dispute resolution, and leadership skills. Taken together, these courses could help you on your way to becoming a highly qualified manager with a wide range of expert capabilities.

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