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Organisations must constantly evolve and adapt to meet a variety of challenges—from changes in technology, to the rise of new competitors, to a shift in laws, regulations, or underlying economic trends. Failure to do so could lead to stagnation or, worse, failure.
Approximately 50 percent of all organisational change initiatives are unsuccessful, highlighting why knowing how to plan for, coordinate, and carry out change is a valuable skill for managers and business leaders alike.
WHAT IS CHANGE MANAGEMENT?
Organisational change refers broadly to the actions a business takes to change or adjust a significant component of its organisation. This may include company culture, internal processes, underlying technology or infrastructure, corporate hierarchy, or another critical aspect.
Organisational change can be either adaptive or transformational:
Change management is the process of guiding organisational change to fruition, from the earliest stages of conception and preparation, through implementation and, finally, to resolution. An effective management strategy is crucial to ensure businesses successfully transition and adapt to any changes that may occur.
Change processes have a set of starting conditions (point A) and a functional endpoint (point B). The process in between is dynamic and unfolds in stages. Here’s a summary of the key steps in the change management process.
STEPS IN THE CHANGE MANAGEMENT PROCESS
1. Prepare the Organisation for Change
For an organisation to successfully pursue and implement change, it must be prepared both logistically and culturally. Before delving into logistics, cultural preparation must first take place to achieve the best business outcome.
In the preparation phase, the manager is focused on helping employees recognise and understand the need for change. They raise awareness of the various challenges or problems facing the organisation that are acting as forces of change and generating dissatisfaction with the status quo. Gaining this initial buy-in from employees who will help implement the change can remove friction and resistance later on.
2. Craft a Vision and Plan for Change
Once the organisation is ready to embrace change, managers must develop a thorough and realistic plan for bringing it about.
The plan should detail:
3. Implement the Changes
After the plan has been created, all that remains is to follow the steps outlined within it to implement the required change. Whether that involves changes to the company’s structure, strategy, systems, processes, employee behaviors, or other aspects will depend on the specifics of the initiative.
During the implementation process, change managers must be focused on empowering their employees to take the necessary steps to achieve the goals of the initiative and celebrate any short-term wins. They should also do their best to anticipate roadblocks and prevent, remove, or mitigate them once identified. Repeated communication of the organisation’s vision is critical throughout the implementation process to remind team members why change is being pursued.
4. Embed Changes Within Company Culture and Practices
Once the change initiative has been completed, change managers must prevent a reversion to the prior state or status quo. This is particularly important for organisational change related to business processes such as workflows, culture, and strategy formulation. Without an adequate plan, employees may backslide into the “old way” of doing things, particularly during the transitory period.
By embedding changes within the company’s culture and practices, it becomes more difficult for backsliding to occur. New organisational structures, controls, and reward systems should all be considered as tools to help change stick.
5. Review Progress and Analyse Results
Just because a change initiative is complete doesn’t mean it was successful. Conducting analysis and review, or a “project post mortem,” can help business leaders understand whether a change initiative was a success, failure, or mixed result. It can also offer valuable insights and lessons that can be leveraged in future change efforts.
Ask yourself questions like: Were project goals met? If yes, can this success be replicated elsewhere? If not, what went wrong?
EFFECTIVE CHANGE MANAGEMENT
While no two change initiatives are the same, they typically follow a similar process. To effectively manage change, managers and business leaders must thoroughly understand the steps involved.
Some other tips for managing organisational change include asking yourself questions like:
DEVELOPING YOUR CHANGE MANAGEMENT SKILLS
If you’ve been asked to lead a change initiative within your organisation, or you’d like to position yourself to oversee such projects in the future, it’s critical to begin laying the groundwork for success by developing the skills that can equip you to do the job.
Completing a change management course can be an effective way of developing those skills and lead to several other benefits. When evaluating your options for training, seek a program that aligns with your personal and professional goals; for example, one that emphasises organisational change.
Do you want to become a more effective leader and manager? Explore Depth Leadership, Management Development Programme, and Team Dynamics —three of our leadership and management courses—to learn how you can take charge of your professional development and accelerate your career. Not sure which course is the right fit?
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