In this article, we’ll take your change management from 0 to 100.
We cover the most important topics in change management, including:
- What change management is
- How to manage change
- 10 principles of change management
- 10 principles of leading change management
- 8 steps for an effective change management process
Let’s start at the very beginning…
What Is Change Management?
Change management is a business discipline devoted to managing, implementing, and optimizing organizational change initiatives.
Among other things, change management helps to:
- Minimize the risks and negative impacts of organizational changes
- Improve project outcomes and ROI
- Increase employee productivity and handle employee resistance
- Obtain executive support
- Avoid, prevent, or overcome barriers to change
Ultimately, change management is designed to make the most of organizational change efforts.
Definition of Change Management
What are some good, concise definitions of change management?
Here are a few of the best definitions:
“Change management is the process, tools and techniques to manage the people side of change to achieve the required business outcome.” – Prosci
“Change management (sometimes abbreviated as CM) is a collective term for all approaches to prepare, support, and help individuals, teams, and organizations in making organizational change.” – Wikipedia
“Change management, which is the term most everyone uses, refers to a set of basic tools or structures intended to keep any change effort under control.” – John Kotter’s Consultancy
Though definitions may vary slightly in their wording, they all have the same fundamental goals and approaches.
Learn How to Manage Change
Anyone who wants to learn how to manage change should understand a few fundamentals:
- Change management is about people. Organizational change management may involve systems, structures, tools, or technology. But it remains a human-centered discipline. Humans, after all, operate a business. Change managers focus on managing and influencing people – and when they are effective, those people enact and push change forward.
- Effective change management is goal-oriented and ROI-driven. Change initiatives are investments. And, as with any other investment, they carry risks and rewards. Change management is tasked with achieving ROI, mitigating risk, and accomplishing a project’s stated objectives.
- Change managers apply a structured, systematic approach to managing change. To successfully complete a project, change managers apply structured methods, such as change management frameworks. These systematic approaches are designed to maximize the chances of success, improve project results, and decrease the negative impacts of change.
For more information, check out our article on how to manage change in 5 easy steps.
10 Principles of Change Management
What are the underlying principles of effective change management?
Here are 10 of the most important:
- Stay human-centered
- Communicate clearly
- Adopt digital technology
- Don’t just manage change, lead it
- Earn employees’ trust and support
- Constantly improve
- Be strategic
- Engage all stakeholders
- Leverage the right systems, structures, and processes
- Keep learning
To learn more about this topic, read one of our articles on change management principles.
10 Principles of Leading Change Management
Change leadership is distinct from change management.
To effectively execute change, an organization must drive it forward with strong leadership – and guide it effectively with the right management.
Here are 10 principles of leading change management:
- Have a strong vision for change
- Create a story for change that workers can grasp onto
- To earn support, leaders must embrace change first
- Embody the culture you are seeking to create
- Take ownership of all outcomes
- Communicate the “why” of change – not just the “what”
- Delegate when necessary
- Reward often and early
- Maintain accountability
- Stay humble
Effective leadership is just as important as effective management.
And, like management, leadership can make or break a change management project.
For more on this subject, read one of our articles on leading change management.
8 Steps for an Effective Change Management Process
What makes an effective change management process?
John Kotter’s 8-step change model is a good place to start:
- Create a sense of urgency
- Build a guiding coalition
- Form a strategic vision and initiatives
- Enlist a volunteer army
- Enable action by removing barriers
- Generate short-term wins
- Sustain acceleration
- Institute change
John Kotter’s 8-step process is not the only change management process, however.
Prosci’s ADKAR model and Kurt Lewin’s change model are well-known alternatives.
Read our article on change management frameworks to learn several others.
Change management is a fascinating business discipline.
And, as you might expect, this field is always changing, so there is always more to learn.
This article is an excellent high-level introduction to change management – but it’s just the beginning.