Change Management WalkMe TeamUpdated March 25, 2021

Drastic Measures: When Change Management Requires a Change in Management

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Drastic Measures: When Change Management Requires a Change in Management

What’s the difference between “change in management” and “change management“?

A lot, actually.

Let’s look at what each term means in more detail.

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What Is “Change in Management”?

“Change in management” simply refers to a personnel change. In other words, replacing old managers with new managers.

Change in management is a normal part of business and does not involve organizational change, structural change, or changes to workflow.

However, changes in management are sometimes necessary effects of change management, as we’ll see below.

What Is Change Management?

“Change management” refers to something else entirely. It is a discipline that manages business transformations, changes, and transitions.

Here are a few examples:

  • Managing the implementation of new business processes
  • Managing digital adoption and digital transformation
  • Managing hierarchical and structural changes, such as changes in staffing and management
  • Managing transitions to new business models, cultures, and workflows

Regardless of the nature of the specific change, effective change management is vital to its success.

Change management may entail change in management. However, as we can see, they are altogether different animals.

There are two related terms that may also come up at this point…

“Change Leadership” vs. “Change in Leadership”

Some people use the term change management and change leadership interchangeably.

However, these two terms are also distinct.

First, let’s look at leadership vs. management:

  • Management refers to the oversight, maintenance, administration, and operational execution of a process
  • Leadership refers to driving, directing, and spearheading a process or initiative

The two are similar — and sometimes people take on both roles. However, these two processes are also distinct.

Following from this, the difference between the aforementioned terms should be clear:

  • Change leadership refers to leading, driving, and directing a change initiative
  • Change in leadership refers to changing personnel in leadership positions

Sometimes changes in leadership come as a result of change leadership — but the two terms are distinct.

For any organization undergoing change, it’s vital to manage and lead change successfully.

Ingredients of Successful Change Leaders and Managers

Above, we saw a few examples of changes that a business can undergo.

Every time a business transitions to a new way of doing things, problems can arise. For instance:

  • Employees can resist the change
  • Management or leadership may not agree on how to change
  • There may be budgetary constraints
  • The process of change may impact business functions

Every change, transition, or transformation is unique. This means that obstacles presented are also unique.

Successfully navigating these obstacles requires good leadership and management.

The best change management professionals follow a few best practices, such as:

Transforming from the Bottom Up

Dealing with employee resistanceemployee resistance is one of the biggest hurdles to effective change.

Employees can feel threatened, boxed in, and insecure whenever they are presented with a large change. Overcoming this resistance is key to successful change, change leadership, and change management.

To obtain employee buy-in, great change leaders follow a principle of inclusion.

That is, they allow employees to participate in the change process as much as possible.

Reasons for the change are communicated at the outset and a culture of transparency is cultivated. This improves morale, acceptance, and productivity.

Getting Buy-In at the Top

Lack of consensus among leaders can be another hurdle to overcome. Disagreement can cause friction, slow down adoption, and even prevent change in certain departments.

Therefore, change leaders need to obtain buy-in among a company’s leadership.

Prosci, the company that developed the widely-used ADKAR model, also advocates a method for obtaining buy-in at the executive level.

  • Best Practices
  • Business Case
  • Be Specific
  • Be Assertive
  • Bring in an Expert

Unsurprisingly, Prosci calls this list “The 5 B’s of Executive Buy-In.”

Implementing a Change Management Model

Prosci’s models are only two examples of change management models.

Others include:

  • The Lewin Model
  • Kotter’s Model
  • The McKinsey 7-S Model
  • ITIL Change Management

These are some of the most popular, but there are others.

Using a change model allows change leaders to approach change systematically, avoid surprises, and minimize negative impacts on the business.

Making Use of the Best Tools

Because today’s workplace is becoming more and more complex, it is more necessary than ever to use the right tools when managing change.

Digital technology offers a plethora of benefits for today’s change leader.

For instance:

  • Project management tools give leaders the ability to automate many management-related tasks
  • Analytics tools give leaders insight into initiatives, allowing them to easily visualize and understand strengths and weaknesses of a program
  • Software training tools can drastically reduce training time, reduce employee resistance, and improve productivity

The right tools can give change leaders a significant advantage — and improve the prospects of success.

Biting the Bullet: Making Changes in Management or Leadership

Finally, true change leaders must have a strong character.

This means making tough choices when the time arises.

When necessary, it can mean making changes in management or leadership.

This can be risky to one’s popularity — just look at how Marissa Mayer’s change initiatives were received at Yahoo.

However, despite the controversy and backlash, she helped the company make real progress.

Sometimes, the willingness to make tough choices is the most difficult — and the most important — ingredient for any change leader.

Final Thoughts

Change is constant in today’s business world.

Digital transformation, technological adoption, and organizational development are just a few types of change that companies undergo.

Regardless of the nature of that change, effective change management and change leadership are essential for any initiative to be successful.

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