Having a set of easy-to-follow change management process steps can make organizational change much, much easier.
In this article, we’ll look at 5 steps you can follow to implement and manage change in your business or organization.
These steps are based on some of the world’s most tried-and-tested change models.
Those, in turn, are based on decades of research and experience by some of the industry’s leading change management professionals.
5 Change Management Process Steps
The steps below are an excellent starting place for those just getting started in change management.
Here are the basic steps that every company must undergo when creating change.
1. Creating Awareness and Urgency
Change management is a people-centered discipline.
Employees, managers, customers, and executives are the ones who actually push the change forward.
It is true that change managers guide them. But without their support, change programs will go nowhere.
This means that communication is one of the most important tools in your toolbox.
Using a strategic communication plan, managers must do a few things:
- Create awareness of the problem
- Develop a sense of urgency around that problem
- Show the negative consequences of ignoring the problem
This is the first step towards inspiring employees and igniting a desire for change.
If this step is skipped, then employees will be less motivated to change – they won’t understand what they are doing or why they are doing it.
That lack of motivation can manifest as resistance, slowing down or even damaging a change effort.
2. Developing Desire for Change
After creating a sense of urgency, then it is time to develop a desire for change.
To do this, begin focusing on a solution. And to sell that solution to employees, remember that everyone is self-interested.
The more you can personalize the problem, the easier it is to create a sense of urgency.
Then, the more you can show the benefits of your solution, the more motivated people will be.
Also, it is important to distinguish between “creating a desire for change” and “mandating change.”
Many organizations simply order employees to change – and then expect everything to go smoothly. However, dictating change often creates resistance and feelings of alienation.
Avoid this by creating a desire for change.
Then employees will happily do the work for you.
This reduces employee resistance, frustration, and friction.
3. Enabling Change
People need the right tools to successfully implement change.
Without the knowledge or ability to change, they won’t be able to move forward.
For example, if you are adopting new software, you will need to:
In other words, if you tell a worker to hammer in a nail, first you need to give them the hammer.
For this step, reverse engineer your solution.
Discover what your employees need to implement your solution, then provide them with the necessary tools and knowledge.
4. Driving and Sustaining Action
As mentioned, creating desire is essential to motivate employees.
This desire is essential, but change managers must actively engage employees in order to sustain progress.
In change initiatives with longer life cycles, this is especially true.
A vision of change – and a change story – can help communicate the benefits of change.
But to really understand the value of the program, employees need to experience it.
Offering rewards for short-term wins is one good way to do this.
Such rewards do not need to be fancy or exceptional. Recognition, for instance, is a very effective way to reward change.
For change managers, persistence and patience are virtues.
As the change program moves forward, continue driving change, inspiring others, and pressing forward.
5. Reinforcement and Evaluation
A change program is not complete until it has become permanent.
Unless you reinforce this change after program completion, it may not stick.
Inertia, habits, and residual resistance can unfortunately cause some programs to lose traction. In worst case scenarios, this can cause employees to revert to their old ways.
Therefore, it is important to:
- Continue reinforcing the change program
- Demonstrating the benefits of the change program
- Measuring progress, evaluating feedback, and adjusting your program as necessary
Your program should be reviewed thoroughly after it is finished.
Learn from the data, employee input, and stakeholder input. This information can help you gain insight into what works – and what needs to be fixed the next time around.
This survey of the change management process is an excellent overview.
However, it is just a brief guide.
Implementing change takes a lot of work and careful planning.
Here are a few things you can do next:
- Research other change models and frameworks
- Carefully analyze your business problem
- Work with others in your organization to define a solution
- Create a change management roadmap, or template, to follow on your journey
- Obtain executive sponsorship as early as possible
Be thorough and detailed when planning for change.
The more carefully you prepare, the better your results will be.
Chris is the Lead Author & Editor of Change Blog. Chris established the Change blog to create a source for news and discussion about some of the issues, challenges, news, and ideas relating to Change Management.