Change management methodology is the systematic approach to planning, executing, and managing organizational change.
In this article we’ll answer questions like:
- Why does change management matter?
- What is a change management methodology?
- What does a method look like?
We’ll start by defining change management methodologies.
Change Management Methodology as People-Centered Change
Change management is a discipline that focuses on people.
People, after all, operate organizations.
Employees, managers, users, and customers – for instance – must change if you want to enact change.
Effective change must not only account for stakeholders, it must build its strategy around these people.
Employee resistance, for example, can halt change programs in their tracks.
Customers, also, can play pivotal role in the success or failure of change programs – just think of the Windows 8 failure.
Here is what all of this means for businesses:
- To effectively fuel and manage change, you must find ways to motivate and drive action
- People will be the backbone of change – but can pose a major obstacle
- To execute change, you need a systematic approach to dealing with people
Below, we’ll discuss that approach in more detail.
A Breakdown of Change Management Methods
A change methodology is an approach to implementing change.
It is a model, a framework, or a system designed to manage people.
There are several change management frameworks in use today.
Some are more popular than others – some are practical, some are theoretical, some are general, some focus on specific industries.
However, the majority of them focus on managing change by designing a people-centered framework.
Here are some of the core steps you’ll find in such methodologies.
Inspire and Motivate
The first step is making people aware of the proposed change.
From the outset of the program, you must inform people of the change, listen to feedback, and build awareness.
On top of that, you must generate desire for change … people are more likely to resist change if they don’t see a purpose for changing.
Motivating people can be accomplished through:
- An effective two-way communication strategy that is founded upon open dialogue
- Selling the benefits and positive aspects of a change project
- Helping people understand the risks and negative aspects of not changing
These can help you build awareness and inspire people to want to change.
Once that is accomplished, they need the proper tools to move forward.
Change programs involve traversing new territory.
It can involve different things in different change programs, such as:
- New job duties
- New hierarchies and responsibilities
- New tools, technology, and work processes
These new frontiers require new skills, abilities, and knowledge.
For anyone involved, this requires activities such as:
Giving employees the tools they need enables them to change.
And with those tools in hand, they can actually execute the change.
Transition to the New Status Quo
Making the transition is the next step.
- Dissolving previous paradigms
- Engaging in the new activities or systems
- Dealing with obstacles, such as employee resistance, psychological blocks, and time limitations
During this stage, change managers follow a few steps to ensure that they make progress:
- Set goals and timelines
- Monitor progress and make adjustments
- Facilitate change as necessary
Throughout this period, managers must work closely with employees to ensure things go smoothly.
Uncertainty is greatest during the transition period, and unforeseen obstacles can crop up. It is critical to support employees as they make the transition.
Once the change goals are met, though, there are still things to be done.
Make Change Permanent
Change projects can unravel even after they are complete.
Unless change is reinforced and instituted, people can revert to old habits.
To counteract this inertia, it is necessary to cement change and make it permanent.
This can be accomplished through:
- Rewards and recognition
- Accountability and monitoring systems
- Ongoing guidance, mentoring, and coaching
Actions such as these can prevent people from undoing all your hard work.
Systems and steps such as these can begin early on in a change program. And they can continue well after it has been completed.
The above steps are core parts of any change management methodology.
However, there are other necessary steps:
Before beginning change programs, a few things are necessary:
- A sufficient budget and timeline
- An analysis of the problem
- An appropriate solution – that is, a change project that will solve the problem
- Support and buy-in from executives
These prerequisites should be in hand before actually setting out on your change journey.
After the change is finished, change managers should:
- Collect feedback from stakeholders
- Compile project data
- Analyze program results
- Review and document the program results
This information can be used to understand what worked, what didn’t, and what could be improved upon in future programs.
In addition, it can be used to demonstrate the value of change management in future projects.
Change management methodologies may use different terms and different steps.
However, from a big-picture perspective, they involve the same processes.
Many of the stages presented here can be found in other change management methodologies.
For more information, be sure to read up on popular change management frameworks.