Change helps businesses transition into new beginnings, but when it isn’t dealt with effectively there can be undesirable outcomes.
The ultimate goal with change initiatives is to improve productivity, while fostering in a new era of customer-centric operations. This helps organizations differentiate from the competition, where they can optimize results by implementing new practices.
So what exactly is change management and what change models should you consider? Let’s begin with a quick definition of change management:
What is Change Management?
Change management is an evolving concept which has gone from strength to strength in today’s digital era. To overcome your team’s natural urge to resist the unknown, it’s important to implement measures which facilitate transformation, focusing on everything from behavioral science to IT solutions.
Three Popular Change Models
Though these two change models are regimented, they assume a level of flexibility that’s necessary to adapt. Everyone faces their own set of unique organizational circumstances, so must tailor their approach accordingly. There is some leeway to consider, and you’re probably better off using a combination of methodologies from both change models.
Proski’s ADKAR Model
The basic principles of this change model are Awareness, Desire, Knowledge, Ability, and Reinforcement.
Every change initiative should begin with an awareness of what needs to change, alongside a clear understanding of why the change is necessary.
The next critical component is a collective desire to embrace change, where your team should fully support your new initiative. They should view the overarching benefits of change from a long-term perspective.
Staff should have knowledge about how the change will be implemented, and possess the ability necessary for successful change.
To ensure staff have the ability they need to progress, training and development should align with your change goals.
The final stage to consider is reinforcement, where practices are promoted which ensure the change sticks. This is the most critical step of all, because what good are changes if they aren’t implemented long term?
Change leaders need to find ways to incentivize practices which align with change goals, and encourage behaviors which suit company ideals.
Kurt Lewin’s Three-Step ‘Unfreeze-Change-Refreeze’ Model
This change model is based on three main stages of change management:
- Make changes
Once you’ve established change is necessary, you’ll need to analyze your current processes and evaluate how things are done.
This will highlight potential improvements, as you look to tackle the root cause of problems rather than merely addressing the symptoms.
Unfreezing also entails looking at how your company perceives change, and your attempts to counteract perception. Forcing change commonly breeds resentment, where staff feel they haven’t been given the time they need to adapt.
What’s most important is you prepare your team to reduce uncertainty, and incorporate their input every step of the way.
By creating awareness, staff will understand the benefits change will bring, and be more likely to embrace new horizons.
Once everyone is ready, it’s time to deploy change. This is the moment of truth, but with safeguards in place to mitigate risks you can limit difficulties associated with the transition.
When changes are implemented, you should prioritize advanced communication with all stakeholders. Offer any education necessary to fill knowledge gaps, and establish a point of contact for support.
Staff require a helping hand when change occurs, so you should coordinate regular meetings for continuous guidance.
Communication should be two-way, so always remember how you can benefit from feedback. This will not only help you identify problem areas that need clarification, but will help you modify your change approach according to staff needs.
Once changes are in full-effect, it’s time to refreeze the new status quo. If old habits resurface, your efforts will have been in vain.
When you and your team originally set out to change a given process, you would of been considering the long-term implications.
Change must stick for it to be effective, and if old habits resurface it’s essentially rendered useless and possibly even a waste of time and resources.
Regularly assess whether new methods are being followed, and reward those keeping up with new methods.
People should be incentivized to follow new initiatives, and if you’ve incorporated staff feedback there’s a much better chance staff objectives will align with the organization.
To secure full sponsorship where staff are fully invested, you should make staff feel they’re an active part of the process.
The best way to do this is to actively incorporate their feedback. You should update documented processes, and maintain regular checks to ensure changes become habit.
By continually reinforcing change, new habits will embed in your organizational philosophy, becoming firmly rooted in your culture.
For more advice on change management, check out these great tools and techniques.